Thursday, June 29, 2006

Solidarity is stronger than nuclear bombs

“THE WORLD is full of distorted information about Korea,” Comrade Jong In Song from the Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea told anorth London seminar last Saturday.
The seminar was organised by the Friends of Korea coordinating committee and chaired by Harpal Brar with a platform that included Andy Brooks of the New Communist Party, Michael Chant of the RCPB (ML); Godfrey Kramer of the CPGB (ML) and Dermot Hudson from the British Juche Society.
And it took place against a background of rising threats from the United States concerning DPRK plans to test a missile.Comrade Jong continued: “Why are the Americans currently attacking Korea?”he asked.
“Today is the 56th anniversary of the start of the US war against Korea –the Fatherland Liberation War. Why do we still commemorate this year? Andwhy is the western press still hostile to the DPRK?”
Comrade Jong gave a detailed account of the events leading up to the war that began in 1950. This was just five years after the Korean people, led by Kim Il Sung had thrown out the Japanese imperialist occupation forces.
During its long occupation of the Korean peninsula, Japan had suppressed culture, education and economic development, leaving the Koreans without a functioning infrastructure.
In 1945 the end of the Second World War saw Soviet troops in the north of Korea and Americans in the south. This division was supposed to betemporary. Korea was one of the victor nations in the battle against fascist Japan and expected to be united and left to enjoy the peace.
Comrade Jong explained why the first item on the agenda for the new DPRK government in 1948 was the production of pencils. Getting the economy on its feet was not possible without a mass literacy campaign to educate the people– hence the need for pencils.
The Americans accused the North Koreans of invading the south in 1950 but that was a ridiculous claim to make against a country only two years old, struggling to establish an economy and an infrastructure.
When they launched their attack, the Americans used one third of their total ground forces, one fifth of their air force, their entire Pacificfleet and contingents from 15 satellite countries, totalling in excess oftwo million troops – all against the tiny DPRK.
One week before the attack, US statesman John Foster Dulles had visited theUS troops in the south of Korea to approve plans for the invasion, which they boasted would take only one day.
They spoke of breakfast in Kaesong, lunch in Pyongyang and supper at the Chinese border. They had three alternative plans: plan A was to occupy the whole Korean peninsula and use it as a US base; plan B was to continue over the border and invade the young People’s Republic of China and plan C was to carry on over the north-eastern border to invade Siberia.
At the time the US alone had atomic weapons and Washington hawks were keen to make the most of this advantage as quickly as possible with a dash for world domination and the defeat of world socialism.
But the American plans were not to be because the tiny nation, the DPRK, led by Kim Il Sung, did not give way and let the imperialists pass. Instead they put up the mightiest resistance.
What they lacked in weapons and technology they made up for in sheer courage and commitment to defend their homeland – and ingenuity in finding new ways to wage a partisan war against the enemy.
The war ended in 1953 with an armistice – not a peace treaty – signed between the DPRK and the Americans, which has left the country divided by the American occupation of the south and still technically in an unfinished war.
The terms of the treaty specified that a peace conference was to be established within three months to negotiate the terms of the peaceful reunification of Korea. But the US reneged on this and built a huge wall dividing the country in half.
Now the US imperialists still aim to conquer the world. “They try to disarm us,” said Comrade Jong. “That is ridiculous.”
He spoke of the need for solidarity movements “like this one here” to counter act the lies and the hostile propaganda in the western press.“Solidarity is stronger than nuclear bombs,” he said, “We are not afraid.”
NCP leader Andy Brooks paid tribute to Democratic Korea’s stand against US imperialism and pointed out that the DPRK has not only a right but a duty to protect its people against the continuing threat of invasion.
Michael Chant spoke of British complicity in anti-DPRK slanders and smears and the need to take a stand to defend that state.
The meeting ended with a strong message of support for the people for the DPRK that was unanimously supported.

pic: Michael Chant, Jong In Song, Andy Brooks and Harpal Brar at the seminar

Friday, June 23, 2006

Forest Gate Protest Against Police Raid

THOUSANDS of people gathered in East London last Sunday to protest at the police treatment of two Muslim brothers – Abul Koyair and Mohammed Abdul Kayar – and their family after the notorious anti-terror squad raid on their home, in which Kayar was shot in the shoulder.
Mudassar Ahmed, one of the march organisers, attacked the “lies and misinformation” put out by the police after the arrest and the failure of intelligence that led to the raid.
It turns out that the informant upon whose information the raid was based, was a young man with an IQ of just 69, who had been a boyhood friend of the brothers.
The two brothers were released after a week of interrogation with no charges against them and not a scrap of incriminating evidence found, despite a very thorough police search of their home. Ahmed said: “The police are doing their job but they should be doing it properly. The intelligence agencies have much to answer for.”
The brothers and their family were also angered when police released information that £38,000 in cash had been found at their home.
The family, who are strict Muslims, say this money is from a family business but their religious beliefs forbid usury – meaning that they cannot use banks.
Last Sunday’s demonstration in Forest Gate was also supported by the family and friends of Charles de Menezes, the young Brazilian who was shot by anti-terror squads at Stockwell Tube station last July. This was another tragic failure of police intelligence.
Meanwhile Lord Carlile of Berriew last week, in his annual review of counter-terror laws, claimed that Britain’s ports and borders are too poorly policed to deter terrorists.
Civil service cuts over decades have led to a situation where Customs staff are “thinly spread” and the Coast Guard service has also been drastically cut.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Stop the persecution of Muslims!

THE MASSIVE police “anti-terrorist” raid and the shooting of a young man in a Muslim neighbourhood of East London has ended with the release of the two young Muslim brothers without charge. Mercifully, the wounded “suspect” only suffered light injuries but that doesn’t excuse the cops or those who ordered 250 of them in on a dawn raid based on “reliable” information that turned out to be totally false. No bombs or chemical devices were found and the two men were unarmed.

We’re told of course that there is a “war against terror” and London, which was terror bombed last year, is undoubtedly still a target for the followers of Osama bin Laden. But that doesn’t excuse the racist hysteria whipped up by the bourgeois media against the Muslim community in Britain that began when Anglo-American imperialism invaded Iraq in 2003. It has created a climate of fear similar to that fired up by the ruling class against the Irish community in Britain during the IRA campaign to free the north of Ireland that led to the victimisation and wrongful imprisonment of Irish men and women during the 1970s and 80s and the brutal murder of Diarmuid O’Neill in 1996.

This is the second time the Metropolitan Police have shot an innocent man in the past 12 months in “anti-terror” operations. The first, the young Brazilian mistaken for a terrorist and pumped full of bullets, led to a police apology that will not bring a dead man back and the second must lead to an inquiry to prevent any more innocent blood being shed.

Police terror in Forest Gate

by Daphne Liddle

TWO YOUNG Muslim men last Tuesday told the world how it feels to be raided at dawn by anti-terrorist police, shot, beaten up and held without charge for a week – only to be released without charge – all on the basis of false information and a climate of hysteria about terrorism.

Mohammed Abdul Kahar, who was shot in the chest by the police, told the press conference he was woken at about 4am by his brother screaming.

“I just had my boxer shorts on and a T-shirt. It was dark and I assumed a robbery was happening. As I made the first step down the stairs, my brother was still screaming and I turned round to look at the stairs.

“As soon as I turned round, I saw an orange spark and a big bang. I flew into the wall and I slipped down.

“I was on the floor. I looked on my right, on my chest and saw blood coming down my chest and saw the hole in my chest. At that moment I knew I was shot.

“The first thing I was thinking was that an armed robbery was taking place. As I went down, I saw an object flying in my face, so I put my hand over my face. At that moment I did not know what object it was, but I know now it was the gun.

“He tried to hit me over the face with it. I saw the shotgun in my chest and I was begging, ‘Please, please I cannot breathe’. He just kicked me in my face and kept on saying, ‘Shut the fuck up’….

“At that moment I thought they were either going to shoot me again or shoot my brother, so I lay there and heard them say, ‘Secure the room, secure the room’. One of the officers grabbed my left foot and dragged me down the stairs.”

Kahar said he did not realise the men were police until he had been dragged out of the house and saw the police vans. They had never said a word about police.

At that point he heard his mother screaming and thought: “One by one they’re going to kill us.”By that time Kahar was in terrible pain from the shooting, he said he felt as though his whole upper body was burning.

This is frighteningly reminiscent of the treatment meted out to Diarmuid O’Neil in September 1996, an unarmed Irish terror suspect, who was fatally shot by anti-terror police in a dawn raid and then dragged bleeding down a flight of stairs while still alive.

Kahar survived and was taken to hospital but was discharged into police custody the next day. Police detained both brothers and interrogated them for over a week. They were totally innocent and no trace was ever found of any chemical weapons. If anti-terror legislation passed at the end of last year were in force now, they could have been detained for up to a month without charge or trial.

This case demonstrates why such laws – part of Bush and Blair’s “war on terrorism” – are so wrong.

The police carrying out the raid had been told they were acting to stop two dangerous terrorists who were in the process of concocting some sort of chemical suicide bomb that could kill hundreds if not thousands.

But the information was false. It came originally from a police informant and passed to MI5 but it was not checked out by anyone.

Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei, the senior Muslim officer in the Metropolitan Police force has called for more rigorous analysis of intelligence in future and for lessons to be learned.

The lesson the Government must learn is that imperialist powers cannot go around the world bombing and invading countries like Afghanistan and Iraq without making their home nations a target for terrorists.

And police raids based on false information, hyped up by anti-terrorist hysteria, can only make the situation worse for everyone.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Turnham Green Peace Market

SOUTHALL New Communist party spent a warm, friendly day at the Turnham Green Peace Market in last Saturday, 3rd June.
This event had been organised for many years by West London Peace Council, the organisation being taken over for several years by John Grigg of Acton CND.
The Green was covered in stalls but politically there were three: Stop the War Coalition, Acton CND and Southall NCP.
There was dialogue all day showing the public’s rejection of Blairite policies: outstandingly concern about arbitrary arrest, the Iraq war, cutbacks in the NHS along with general political comment. By popular request John Grigg has organised a second Peace Market on 9th September. Southall NCP will be there.

Flawed intelligence sparked police raid

TWO-HUNDRED-and-fifty police officers, many of them armed, raided a home in Forest Gate, east London, in the early hours of Friday morning.

They burst into the house shouting and screaming as the two brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar and Abul Koyair, who lived there struggled to rouse themselves and stumble down the stairs. Halfway down the stairs Kahar was shot and wounded in the shoulder, he says by police coming up the stairs.

In addition, the police raided neighbours’ houses and took them for 12 hours of questioning. One of these neighbours received a head injury that required hospital treatment.

Police claimed they had sound intelligence from MI5 that the house they raided was being used to make a deadly dangerous chemical weapon.

But the most thorough of searches of that house, over several days, have produced neither a shred of evidence of chemical weapons nor any links between the two brothers with terrorism.

Senior counter-terrorism officers now admit the intelligence may have been flawed. It emerged that the specific information came originally from a police informant who had been providing information about the activities of alleged Islamic militants for several weeks.

The police then took this information to MI5 for it to be assessed. The police and MI5 then agreed it was specific and credible and that immediate action was necessary.

There were no attempts to corroborate the information. Information from paid informants is notoriously unreliable because the money is an incentive to invent or exaggerate information. Both brothers deny any involvement with chemical weapons or terrorism.

Later rumours emerged that Kahar had been shot by his brother accidentally in a scuffle.


His lawyer, Kate Roxburgh, reported her client’s account of the shooting: “He was woken up about four in the morning by screams from downstairs, got out of bed in his pyjamas obviously unarmed, nothing in his hands, and hurrying down the stairs.

“As he came toward a bend in the stairway, not knowing what was going on downstairs, the police turned the bend up towards him and shot him – and that was without any warning.

“He wasn’t asked to freeze, given any warning and he didn’t know the people in the house were police officers until after he was shot. He is lucky still to be alive.”

The circumstances of the shooting are now the subject of an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Authority and so the police are refusing to make any further comments.

Koyair’s solicitor, Julian Young, said: “My client denies any involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorist offences and has maintained that position from the start.”

Kahar was taken to hospital after the shooting but released on Tuesday, when he was arrested and taken to join his brother in custody in Paddington Green police station. On Wednesday the police applied for an extended warrant to hold the men for another week.

A neighbouring family, detained by the police during the raid, have also denied any involvement in any kind of terrorism are also considering legal action against the police.

The family of four adults and an eight-month-old baby said the police had questioned them for 12 hours.

They issued a statement saying: “We would like to express our deep shock and anger at the operation that took place. My family members and I were physically assaulted. I received head injuries that required hospital treatment. We are liaising with our legal team on the course of action to take.”

A woman from the family also had to be treated in hospital for shock.

London's Housing Crisis

THE LABOUR Representation Committee last Monday organised a seminar at the House of Commons on the current housing crisis in London with a view to initiating a major broad campaign on the issue.
The seminar was chaired by Jeremy Corbyn MP and introduced by Austin Mitchell MP. He gave a summary of the causes behind the current shortage of housing and the rising house prices that have put home ownership way beyond the reach of most London workers.
Hardly any council houses are being built, so with a shortage of supply, prices inevitably rise.
“When Labour came to power in 1997, it prioritised spending on health and education. Shamefully, housing was neglected though it must be equally important. If children don’t have a decent home to live in they can’t benefit from education and poor housing damages people’s health.
“The Government estimated that it would cost £19 billion to bring Britain’s long-neglected council housing stock into a fit condition and decided that it could not afford the money in addition to the extra spending on health and education. “Incidentally, that £19 billion is what the London School of Economics reckons the identity card scheme will cost.
“So they told local authorities to raise the money themselves by selling off land or privatising council estates.
“They have had problems with this because tenants have consistently voted against having their estates sold off to the private sector, in spite of pressure and propaganda to accept.
“They’ve virtually been told, ‘Do you want us to sell the estate and get all your repairs and renovation done or do you want to rot in hell?’.
“But they still vote against privatisation. Prescott refuses to budge on the issue, insisting that councils must sell off their housing stock to get any money for renovation and repairs.
“And it’s not as if privatisation was cheaper. It costs at least £430 per dwelling in legal fees and then there’s the costs of all the propaganda.
“When houses are privatised, the new owners are free to sell them on as they fall vacant. And they fall into the higher cost sector. Those homes that are not privatised continue to decay.”
He went on to say that first time buyers now need a minimum joint income of between £38,000 and £40,000 a year. The term “affordable housing” is used a lot but it’s still unaffordable to most Londoners.
“The affordable housing policy is not working,” he said. “We need a real fall in prices and that means we need a major building programme.”
He warned that housing associations are now selling off their stock at market prices – reducing that amount of what is called “social housing”.
“There is still a war on council housing going on,” said Austin Mitchell, “This is a total failure of government.”
Marc Francis from the housing charity and pressure group Shelter pointed out that although there are now fewer people sleeping on the streets of London, there is still a lot of hidden homeless. Around 100,000 people are in emergency temporary accommodation.
“This hits families very hard,” he said. “Children in poor housing conditions suffer bad health and on average miss a quarter of the time they should be in school.
“Much of this temporary housing is a high rents and that creates a poverty trap. They cannot work themselves out of this because if their wages rise, they lose housing benefit. For every £1 extra they earn, they lose 80 pence in benefit cuts.”
He stressed that the most vulnerable – they very young and the very old – suffer most from being trapped in poor or inappropriate housing. Andrew Berry from Islington Unison read out a contribution from Rosemary Plummer, who could not attend because of illness. This statement covered the hidden homelessness in so many young people being unable to afford their own homes, remaining in their parents’ homes.
The Government scheme to help “key workers” – teachers, nurses, firefighters and so on – has been of some help to those categories. But Andrew added that Unison’s view is that every worker in London is a key worker: “How could London operate without its dustmen, its classroom assistants, its shop assistants, its catering workers. He added that even what is called “affordable” accommodation, and the low-cost joint-ownership schemes are still way beyond the reach of low paid workers.
Robert Taylor spoke on community involvement and democracy and how some local authorities seem to suffer from “consultationitis”. Whenever they want to do something, they launch a new consultation. They invite tenants to meetings, listen to them and then do what they were going to do anyway.
“Being consulted is very different from real power,” he said.
Pete Challis, a Greenwich councillor for over 30 years, who lost he seat by one vote to a Tory last month, told the seminar of the individual tragedies and heartbreak behind the statistics; of people in urgent need to transfer because of health conditions, stranded in high rise blocks and children packed into overcrowded homes.
He pointed out that most new building in London now is one or two-bedroom flats. Very few larger, family-size flats are being built and even fewer homes with gardens – and children need gardens.
Pete explained the iniquity of the current boom in profiteering from private sector buying to let, which in effect is subsidised by housing benefit because tenants cannot afford the full, high rents.
Piers Corbyn spoke of the decision to pull down London’s largest estate – the Aylesbury estate near the Elephant and Castle – and to replace it with private sector housing, without any consultation with the tenants on any aspect.
John McDonnell MP ended the seminar with a proposal to invite all the housing campaign groups, housing associations, charities and so on to a conference to draw up a list of campaigning demands – and then to launch a major campaign with a mass rally, perhaps at Westminster Central Hall. This was agreed unanimously.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

GMB fights for mini-cab driver

THE GMB general union last week called for the same rules for mini cabs as for black cabs in London after a mini cab driver faces £1,000 in fines for helping disabled fares to reach their destinations safely, when that means stopping along a red route.
The union has called on Transport for London to review its ruling that bars London’s licensed private hire mini cab drivers from picking up and dropping off their fares in red routes even when driving disabled passengers, even though black cabs are allowed to stop in the red routes for picking up and dropping off fares.
The total ban costs London’s 40,000 licensed mini cab drivers thousands of pounds in fines every week. It disadvantages able bodied passengers who have to be dropped some times a long distance from their destination but is particular hard on disabled passengers who would benefit from being picked up and dropped off directly outside their desired location.
This appeal comes as GMB member Ariyibi Adeniran who lives in Hackney and has been a London mini cab driver for many years, faces almost £1,000 worth of fines and a visit from the bailiffs as he cannot afford to pay the outstanding fines many of which are the result of his helping disabled fares reach their destinations safely. Ed Blissett, GMB London region secretary said: “Some laws are just plan wrong and GMB London feels that this total ban may be a case in point. We are not looking to disrupt London’s traffic flow but simply to enable the capital’s mini cab drivers the same rights as London’s black cabs and to help the travelling public and especially the disabled to get to and from their destinations with as little difficulty as possible.”