Monday, April 20, 2015

The Day of the Sun in London

 By New Worker correspondent

Millions of Koreans recalled the life and times of great leader Kim Il Sung this week. Kim Il Sung was born on 15th April 1912 and his birthday has long been celebrated as the Day of the Sun in the DPR Korea and by everyone who stands by the DPRK .
The Day of the Sun is the biggest public holiday of the year in the DPRK, the culmination of a series of sporting events and arts festivals that are held annually to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the founder of the Korean communist movement.  Democratic Korean leader Kim Jong Un headed the tributes at the great leader’s mausoleum in Pyongyang and across the country millions of workers took part in cultural and sports events held to mark the 103rd anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung.
Across the world communists and friends of the Korean revolution  took part in similar events or held their own commemorations  of the Day of the Sun and London was no exception.
The first was at the Democratic Korean embassy where comrades, including Daphne Liddle from the New Communist Party, brought floral tributes at the opening of a reception to honour the  country’s eternal president and heard Hyon Hak Bong, the ambassador, made a brief but passionate speech about the life and achievements of Kim Il Sung.
Hyong Hak Bong at the embassy tributes
Kim Il Sung was born when the Koreans were under the heel of the brutal Japanese colonialists.  His father, a patriot, had already been arrested by the Japanese. When Kim Il Sung formed the Down with Imperialism Union at the age of 14 no one, least of all the Japanese imperialists, could have dreamt that within 20 years Korea would be free.
 Kim Il Sung saw the hopelessness of the sectarians, flunkeyists, dogmatists and factionalists who called themselves communists in the 1920s. So he decided to form a communist movement from the youth and the grass-roots of the villages and factories, and surprised everyone with the emergence of the mighty Korean communist movement that led the people to victory in 1945.
When Kim Il Sung gathered a small band of heroes to form the first guerrilla units to take on the Japanese Army no one could have imagined that this would become the People’s Army that brought the American imperialists to their knees begging for an armistice in 1953.
Kim Il Sung developed and advanced Marxist-Leninist theory and led the struggle against Japanese colonialism and US aggression. He was a fighter, a thinker and a leader, Kim Il Sung was an outstanding communist of the 20th century whose name will forever be remembered as the founder of the modern Korean communist movement that began amongst the patriotic youth of Korea when he was a student in the 1920s.
 Kim Il Sung founded the communist movement that liberated the country from Japanese colonialism, defeated the might of US-led imperialism in the Korean War and led the drive to build the modern, socialist republic that exists today in the north of the divided peninsula.
Kim Il Sung was a great commander in war and a great leader in peace. In the north of Korea, so brutally partitioned by imperialism, he built a modern communist movement dedicated to serving the working people of Korea and he led the people in the mass struggle to build a new life after they had won their freedom in 1945.
The Workers’ Party of Korea, with Kim Il Sung at the helm, led the battle for land reform, education and socialist construction in the 1950s and 60s and then pushed forward on the engineering, technical and scientific fronts to raise living standards and the quality of life for the millions of workers and peasants who had fought for a better tomorrow.
Over the weekend friends and comrades took part in a lively and upbeat meeting in central London called by Korean Friendship Association and the Juche Idea Study Group to hear openings by Dermot Hudson and Shaun Pickford on socialist construction in the DPRK and the essence of the  Juché Idea that is the ultimate expression of Kim Il Sung’s thinking.
Dermot Hudson and Yu Kwang Song
Daphne Liddle said that the NCP remembered and respected great leader  Kim Il Sung and recalled the meetings between the great Korean leader and Andy Brooks and the late Eric Trevett while Yu Kwang Song from the DPRK embassy reported on the latest developments on the peninsula and thanked  all the activists who had taken part in the recent picket of the south Korean puppet embassy in March.
In western Europe communists understood the economic case for scientific socialism but ignored the philosophical aspects of the teachings of Marx and Engels. Though the role of mass action was clearly understood, the role of the individual was often ignored. Though the achievements of the Soviet Union led by Lenin and Stalin were studied, they were often not properly understood.
Kim Il Sung not only grasped Marxism-Leninism but he applied it to the concrete conditions of the Korean people. He knew that once the masses realised their own strength they would become unstoppable. He knew that serving the people was the be-all and end-all for the Korean communists and for the Workers’ Party of Korea that he launched in 1945. He developed Korean style socialism and the Juché idea – which elevates the philosophical principles of Marxism-Leninism as well as its economic theories – and focuses on the development of each individual worker, who can only be truly free as part of the collective will of the masses.
In the western world Juché is simply described as “self-reliance” but it is much more than that. Kim Il Sung said that working people could only become genuinely emancipated if they stood on their own feet. But the Juché idea doesn’t negate proletarian internationalism. The Soviet Union, People’s China and the people’s democracies of eastern Europe all closed ranks behind Democratic Korea during the Korean war.
The Korean people responded with their trade and assistance whenever they could, while Korean experts and advisers helped the Vietnamese, the Arabs and the Africans struggling to break the chains of colonialism and they continue to do so today. And Kim Il Sung’s successors, dear leader Kim Jong Il and leader Kim Jong Un have followed his footsteps to build a modern socialist republic, where every individual worker is master of his or her own life.
the platform at the Friends of Korea meeting
Finally on Monday the leaders of all the major Korean solidarity movements in Britain met for a celebration called by the Friends of Korea committee at the John Buckle Centre in south London. NCP leader Andy Brooks opened the formal part of the meeting which heard brief tributes from Dermot Hudson and Michael Chant of the RCPB (ML) and guest of honour Ambassador. Hyon Hak Bong before adjourning for a film on the Spring Festival in Korea and refreshments  to drink to the health  of the DPRK’s leaders and the country’s heroic people.

Hands off Yemen!

by New Worker correspondent

AROUND 100 people gathered in Curzon Street, London, opposite the Saudi Arabian embassy, to protest at Saudi Arabia’ bombing of Yemen, resulting in deaths and horrific injuries to hundreds of innocent men, women and children.
The rally, on Saturday 11th April, included many Yemeni nationals who condemned the Saudis loudly and the imperialist leaders behind Saudi Arabia’s unprovoked and aggressive action. They also attacked United Nations general secretary Ban Ki Moon for his failure to condemn the attacks.
Speakers at the rally included Andrew Murray and John Rees from Stop the War, Maz Saleem and STW student organiser Shadia Edwards-Dashti 
The Saudi-led attack on Yemen has killed more than 540 people, of which at least 74 are children, and has left 1,700 wounded.
Supported and directed by the United States, using arms supplied by Britain, Saudi Arabia is waging a war that can bring nothing but more death and destruction for the people of Yemen.
The main message from Stop the War was that Saudi Arabia has no business intervening in internal differences within Yemen – the Yemenis must be allowed to resolve these differences themselves.
John Rees said: “The United States and Britain are up to their ears in this.” He went on to say that Saudi Arabia is Britain’s number one customer for weapons and that is ever a deal is in doubt, one of the royal family is sent to ease it through.
He said that the bombs, drones and guns that are raining death and terror on innocent Yemenis are falling with the blessing of the British government and were supplied by British arms companies.
The US has a central role in all of this. As US officials told the Wall Street Journal: “American military planners are using live intelligence feeds from surveillance flights over Yemen to help Saudi Arabia decide what and where to bomb.”
And Yemen has for a long time suffered repeated drone strikes from the US, killing innocent civilians.
Maz Saleem told the rally that western-backed attacks on Arab countries add to Islamophobia in this country. Her father, aged 82, was stabbed and murdered by a fascist terrorist two years ago while walking home from his local mosque simply because he was a Muslim.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Racists outnumbered in London and Oxford

By New Worker correspondent

THE GERMAN based Islamophobic organisation Pegida joined forces with English racists and fascists held a small static rally in Whitehall, London, while the English Defence League staged a march in Oxford attended by just over 100 supporters.
In both cases the racists were well outnumbered by around 300 anti-fascists.
In London a handful of Pegida supporters and friends assembled behind a banner while about 100 metres away around 100 supporters of Unite Against Fascism assembled with banners, placards, and literature stalls.
The Pegida group were joined by a group of Nepalese Ghurkhas. This rally had been organised for four o’clock, some said in the hope that some of the Oxford EDL supporters could get back to London to cover both events. But weekend rail repairs put an end to that plan.
But the Pegida event did swell a little when a group of serious hard core English Nazis, including Eddie Stampton, left their pub and arrived pursued by around 200 young Anti-Fascist Action members who exploded noisily into Whitehall and made some serious efforts to breach the police lines that separated fascists from anti-fascists.
These young anti-fascists had been waiting for a couple of hours in Trafalgar Square and indulging in a pillow fight to pass the time.
Police were forced to close Whitehall to traffic completely for a long time as they struggled to keep the fascists and anti-fascists apart.
So far Pegida attempts to raise support in Britain have been pathetic failures, with just four of their supporters turning up to one planned even in Edinburgh last month.
Meanwhile in Oxford more than 300 anti-fascists mostly locals and supported by the Oxford Students’ Union and local trade unions, came out to oppose the EDL march.
There were some scuffles as some EDL supporters tried to attack the anti-fascists. One police officer was slightly injured by a flying missile and there were two arrests.

Brixton housing campaigners target estate agent

HOUSING campaigners in Brixton, south London  camped on the pavement outside Foxton’s estate agents on Sunday 5th April after the local council agreed a £50 million 10-year partnership deal with Foxton’s to manage all future housing needs in Brixton.
Foxton’s will now become the Sustainable Housing Co-operative Partner for Lambeth Council. The council has suffered a £90 million cut in its budget from central government.
The company will bring their commercial expertise into play and help Lambeth Council to gain a maximum return on the six estate regeneration projects throughout the borough.
This deal was not mentioned as an option in recent local “consultations” with local tenants.
A conference to address the current housing crisis has also been pledged as part of this exciting new partnership. Tickets are priced at £100 for tenants. Landlords will receive free admission.
The housing campaigners, including a local hip hop artist and activist Potent Whisper, bedded down in the window of Foxton’s estate agents in central Brixton to highlight the attack on communities in social housing throughout the borough.
Potent said: “Was just gonna let you know that a few of us are going to camp outside Foxton’s with sleeping bags and pillows to highlight displacement and the homelessness that results from the evictions.”
The council plans to demolish large swathes that are the centre of local communities and build luxury flats. Many local families face eviction.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

No privatisation at the National Gallery

  by New Worker correspondent

STAFF at London’s National Gallery staged a Day of Action and a seven-day strike in the last week of March in their long-running battle against privatisation.
The National Gallery has told 400 of its 600 staff that they are to be taken over by a private company. They are responsible for the security of the paintings and the public and look after millions of visitors.

The National Gallery is the only major museum that does not pay the London living wage.
More than 40,000 people have signed a petition in support of the campaign, run by civil service union PCS, to stop the privatisation.
The workers have already taken strike action on several occasions and in February they were on strike for five days.
The dispute escalated when union representative Candy Udwin, who was involved in talks at the conciliation service Acas, was suspended on the eve of the strike.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "With this privatisation plan, the National Gallery is putting its well-earned worldwide reputation at risk.
"Its decision to suspend one of our senior reps is a disproportionate and unfathomable act of bad faith and not only should she be reinstated immediately, gallery officials must commit to reopening full and proper negotiations."
More than 8,500 people have signed a petition demanding her reinstatement.
A National Gallery spokesperson said all planned education events had been cancelled or rescheduled due to the action.
Last week the union launched a People’s Inquiry into the running of the gallery in Parliament. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka was joined by Green party spokesperson for culture, media and sport, Martin Dobson and employment rights lawyer John Hendy QC, to call on the gallery to halt its privatisation plans.
A message of support was sent by shadow culture minister Chris Bryant on behalf of the Labour party who raised concern over the ongoing dispute which they acknowledged is “damaging the reputation of the gallery, is undermining the morale among staff and is inconveniencing the public.” They also called for staff to be paid equitably, on at least the Living Wage.
Lunchtime protests took place across the country on the Day of Action outside cultural institutions in solidarity with National Gallery. The protest in London was followed by the handing in of a letter at Downing Street urging the current Prime Minister to intervene to ensure the plans are delayed at least until the next government and the incoming director have had a chance to review them.