Facing austerity cuts, students & faculty occupy Univ. of Southern MaineMarch 22, 2014
Faculty and students launched an occupation of a Maine university building Friday to demand a halt to mass faculty layoffs and department slashes that they say are part of the austerity cuts devastating public education nation-wide.
Over 100 people launched a late-morning occupation of the hallway outside the Portland office of the University of Southern Maine provost Michael Stevenson — the hallway that faculty passed through Friday on their way to receive lay-off letters.
People sat on the floor and leaned against walls as chants and even songs broke out amid discussions about “next steps” for holding the university accountable. “We’re using this as a space to organize,” said Meaghan LaSala, student in Women and Gender Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams.
Occasionally, laid-off faculty addressed the crowd in emotionally-charged statements just moments before or after receiving notice.
Meanwhile, at a nearby university event for gubernatorial candidate Michael Michaud, students took to the microphone to speak out against budget cuts.
"I’m staying here as long as it takes," Jules Purnell, junior in Women and Gender Studies, told Common Dreams while occupying the hallway. “We’re in a scarcity economy, and we are all terrified right now, but we have to think about solutions.”
Protesters said 11 to 15 full-time faculty members at the university were handed letters on Friday notifying them that they were being “retrenched” or forced out of their jobs, and USM President Theo Kalikow and Provost Stevenson announced plans to lay off more faculty and staff and eliminate four programs: American and New England studies, geosciences, arts and humanities at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn College facility, and recreation and leisure studies.
Wendy Chapkis, professor in Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies who participated in the occupation, told Common Dreams that the lay-offs hit faculty of color the hardest. “We’ve been agitating for years for the university to hire women of color,” said Chapkis. “Now they are laying off dozens of faculty members, starting with the most recent hires. Out of the 8 people I know who were laid off, three of them are minority faculty.”
John Eric Baugher, associate professor in sociology who received a lay-off notice Friday after 9 years at USM, told Common Dreams that “university management is pressuring senior faculty to retire to save the jobs of younger faculty” — in what he said amounts to “emotional blackmail.”
"This is potentially precedent-setting," he warned. "There are colleges and universities across the country modeling themselves on the corporate world. If they can get rid of fully tenured, salaried faculty, what will this mean for other universities?"
Administrators have sought to place the blame on a tuition freeze and a multi-million dollar shortfall as the state of Maine, under Governor Paul Lepage, flat-lines funding for the Maine university system. Students say they are fighting for more state and federal funding for USM and demanding that universities facing cuts “chop from the top” rather than force students and workers to bear the brunt of austerity.
"A lot of students here are non-traditional and come here as workers and parents," said LaSala. "By instating these cuts they are saying that students in southern Maine have no right to a diverse education. We want our human right to education. This is happening across the country."
A recent report by public policy organization Demos finds that, across the U.S., states used the 2008 recession to justify austerity cuts to higher education funding, and universities are increasingly turning to business models based on rising tuition rates. “In less than a generation, our nation’s higher education system has become a debt-for-diploma system—more than seven out of 10 college seniors now borrow to pay for college and graduate with an average debt of $29,400,” reads a summary of the report.
Yet, students and faculty expressed hope that growing movements can buck what they say is a war on public education. “We need to believe in each other, because we are each other’s only hope,” wrote Purnell in a statement circulated at the protest. “If we are committed to one another and making lasting change, we can do this.”
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Facing austerity cuts, students & faculty occupy Univ. of Southern Maine
March 22, 2014

Faculty and students launched an occupation of a Maine university building Friday to demand a halt to mass faculty layoffs and department slashes that they say are part of the austerity cuts devastating public education nation-wide.

Over 100 people launched a late-morning occupation of the hallway outside the Portland office of the University of Southern Maine provost Michael Stevenson — the hallway that faculty passed through Friday on their way to receive lay-off letters.

People sat on the floor and leaned against walls as chants and even songs broke out amid discussions about “next steps” for holding the university accountable. “We’re using this as a space to organize,” said Meaghan LaSala, student in Women and Gender Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams.

Occasionally, laid-off faculty addressed the crowd in emotionally-charged statements just moments before or after receiving notice.

Meanwhile, at a nearby university event for gubernatorial candidate Michael Michaud, students took to the microphone to speak out against budget cuts.

"I’m staying here as long as it takes," Jules Purnell, junior in Women and Gender Studies, told Common Dreams while occupying the hallway. “We’re in a scarcity economy, and we are all terrified right now, but we have to think about solutions.”

Protesters said 11 to 15 full-time faculty members at the university were handed letters on Friday notifying them that they were being “retrenched” or forced out of their jobs, and USM President Theo Kalikow and Provost Stevenson announced plans to lay off more faculty and staff and eliminate four programs: American and New England studies, geosciences, arts and humanities at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn College facility, and recreation and leisure studies.

Wendy Chapkis, professor in Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies who participated in the occupation, told Common Dreams that the lay-offs hit faculty of color the hardest. “We’ve been agitating for years for the university to hire women of color,” said Chapkis. “Now they are laying off dozens of faculty members, starting with the most recent hires. Out of the 8 people I know who were laid off, three of them are minority faculty.”

John Eric Baugher, associate professor in sociology who received a lay-off notice Friday after 9 years at USM, told Common Dreams that “university management is pressuring senior faculty to retire to save the jobs of younger faculty” — in what he said amounts to “emotional blackmail.”

"This is potentially precedent-setting," he warned. "There are colleges and universities across the country modeling themselves on the corporate world. If they can get rid of fully tenured, salaried faculty, what will this mean for other universities?"

Administrators have sought to place the blame on a tuition freeze and a multi-million dollar shortfall as the state of Maine, under Governor Paul Lepage, flat-lines funding for the Maine university system. Students say they are fighting for more state and federal funding for USM and demanding that universities facing cuts “chop from the top” rather than force students and workers to bear the brunt of austerity.

"A lot of students here are non-traditional and come here as workers and parents," said LaSala. "By instating these cuts they are saying that students in southern Maine have no right to a diverse education. We want our human right to education. This is happening across the country."

recent report by public policy organization Demos finds that, across the U.S., states used the 2008 recession to justify austerity cuts to higher education funding, and universities are increasingly turning to business models based on rising tuition rates. “In less than a generation, our nation’s higher education system has become a debt-for-diploma system—more than seven out of 10 college seniors now borrow to pay for college and graduate with an average debt of $29,400,” reads a summary of the report.

Yet, students and faculty expressed hope that growing movements can buck what they say is a war on public education. “We need to believe in each other, because we are each other’s only hope,” wrote Purnell in a statement circulated at the protest. “If we are committed to one another and making lasting change, we can do this.”

Source
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thepeoplesrecord

thepeoplesrecord:

thepeoplesrecord:

+ a huge thanks to Carina for designing our pitch!

So far, I’ve connected with a couple of people who would like to contribute to The People’s Manual & share their organizing experiences for this project, but we need more contributors! I know there are so many effective housing justice organizations around the country that are doing amazing direct action to protect the human right to safe, affordable & accessible housing. 

If you have organizing experience, ideas on what the future of de-commodified housing could look like, a knack for design & layout or photos/videos/art/illustrations you’d like to share with this project, feel free to email us or send us a message! 

We have lots of great collaborators on board for The People’s Manual, including academics, illustrators, organizers, lawyers, students & others! 

Now the hard work begins. But we’re still open to collaborating with more activists! If you know any amazing radical housing justice organizers, direct action tactics, movement building strategies, or design/layout skills you’d like to share with this independent media project, feel free to email us - thepeoplesrec@gmail.com. 

Protest action erupts in Guggenheim Museum February 24, 2014
Last night, over 40 protesters staged an intervention inside the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan during Saturday night’s pay-what-you-wish admission hours. Unfurling mylar banners, dropping leaflets, chanting words, handing out information to museum visitors, and drawing attention with the use of a baritone bugle, the group worked to highlight the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates, where Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a franchise of New York’s Guggenheim, is being built.
Staged in the midst of the museum’s newly opened Italian Futurism exhibition, the intervention, a term used by some members of the group to describe the action, received both applause from visitors who seemed excited by the commotion and reactions of confusion from others unsure what was going on.
The intervention began at 6:45pm EST with a bugle call and a loud question: “Who is building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi?” The whole action continued for roughly 20 minutes, during which time security guards appeared to react slowly to the protesters as hundreds of museum visitors captured images and video of the protests.
The participants, who were a diverse group of artists, professors, students, and activists loosely affiliated with Occupy Museums, Gulf Labor, and various NYU-related groups, timed their protest to take place during the pay-what-you-wish hours of the museum, which normally charges $22 admission for adults. When I asked organizers if they purposely chose their action to coincide with the Italian Futurism exhibition and the Carrie Mae Weems retrospective, they told me that they did not, but that they were delighted for the coincidence since Futurism sought to combine art and politics, while Weems is a champion of those who have been historically excluded from museums.
“This is a new phase of the campaign, we’re moving beyond talk to action, and bringing it home obviously to the Guggenheim,” said Andrew Ross, a NYU professor of sociology, who is involved in the Gulf Labor coalition and the NYU Fair Labor coalition. “There are so many more people involved in this action that were not involved in Gulf Labor until this point. We’re widening the circle of participation, and that will have an impact.”
Gulf Labor is a coalition of artists, academics, and activists who have worked for over a year to ensure that the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, which will house Guggenheim- and Louvre-branded museums and a NYU-affiliated university, are not exploitative to workers. Many human rights organizations say that the workers who are brought to Saadiyat Island are victimized by the nation’s sponsorship system and face grueling and inhuman conditions on a daily basis.
During our brief conversation, Ross explained how their work raising awareness about workers’ debt, which translates to a type of indentured servitude for migrant workers, is connected to much bigger issues.
“We’re trying to make a connection with chains of debt that are transnational, and in the various locations we’re looking at, Bangladesh, Abu Dhabi, NYU, and the art world, there’s an enormous accumulation of debt in each of these places, and the money is getting extracted by the transnational creditor class,” Ross said. “And artists are more and more [in debt], and in order to practice art, you’re required to take on a big debt burden … so there’s a connection across many continents. Another art world is possible, one that’s more principled and ethical, and that looks out for the human and labor rights of all. Artists should not be asked to exhibit in museums that have been built on the back of abused workers … that’s what it boils down to. When you’re acquired by a museum that does that, that’s unfair. Your complicity is being bought along with the artwork.”
The idea of using art as a way to reimagine the world was at the heart of another participant’s passion for the issue. “Art, among other things, is about doing, living, and imagining a better world,” said artist Nitasha Dhillon of MTL Collective. “Art should not violate human rights, art should not endanger workers lives, and art should not create debt slaves. And definitely not be part of a system that creates debt bondage.”
She sees yesterday’s action as “a call for solidarity and a call for museums to do the right thing.” She added that “it’s important for museum goers to understand what kind of system they are participating in.”
Source

Protest action erupts in Guggenheim Museum 
February 24, 2014

Last night, over 40 protesters staged an intervention inside the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan during Saturday night’s pay-what-you-wish admission hours. Unfurling mylar banners, dropping leaflets, chanting words, handing out information to museum visitors, and drawing attention with the use of a baritone bugle, the group worked to highlight the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates, where Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a franchise of New York’s Guggenheim, is being built.

Staged in the midst of the museum’s newly opened Italian Futurism exhibition, the intervention, a term used by some members of the group to describe the action, received both applause from visitors who seemed excited by the commotion and reactions of confusion from others unsure what was going on.

The intervention began at 6:45pm EST with a bugle call and a loud question: “Who is building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi?” The whole action continued for roughly 20 minutes, during which time security guards appeared to react slowly to the protesters as hundreds of museum visitors captured images and video of the protests.

The participants, who were a diverse group of artists, professors, students, and activists loosely affiliated with Occupy Museums, Gulf Labor, and various NYU-related groups, timed their protest to take place during the pay-what-you-wish hours of the museum, which normally charges $22 admission for adults. When I asked organizers if they purposely chose their action to coincide with the Italian Futurism exhibition and the Carrie Mae Weems retrospective, they told me that they did not, but that they were delighted for the coincidence since Futurism sought to combine art and politics, while Weems is a champion of those who have been historically excluded from museums.

“This is a new phase of the campaign, we’re moving beyond talk to action, and bringing it home obviously to the Guggenheim,” said Andrew Ross, a NYU professor of sociology, who is involved in the Gulf Labor coalition and the NYU Fair Labor coalition. “There are so many more people involved in this action that were not involved in Gulf Labor until this point. We’re widening the circle of participation, and that will have an impact.”

Gulf Labor is a coalition of artists, academics, and activists who have worked for over a year to ensure that the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, which will house Guggenheim- and Louvre-branded museums and a NYU-affiliated university, are not exploitative to workers. Many human rights organizations say that the workers who are brought to Saadiyat Island are victimized by the nation’s sponsorship system and face grueling and inhuman conditions on a daily basis.

During our brief conversation, Ross explained how their work raising awareness about workers’ debt, which translates to a type of indentured servitude for migrant workers, is connected to much bigger issues.

“We’re trying to make a connection with chains of debt that are transnational, and in the various locations we’re looking at, Bangladesh, Abu Dhabi, NYU, and the art world, there’s an enormous accumulation of debt in each of these places, and the money is getting extracted by the transnational creditor class,” Ross said. “And artists are more and more [in debt], and in order to practice art, you’re required to take on a big debt burden … so there’s a connection across many continents. Another art world is possible, one that’s more principled and ethical, and that looks out for the human and labor rights of all. Artists should not be asked to exhibit in museums that have been built on the back of abused workers … that’s what it boils down to. When you’re acquired by a museum that does that, that’s unfair. Your complicity is being bought along with the artwork.”

The idea of using art as a way to reimagine the world was at the heart of another participant’s passion for the issue. “Art, among other things, is about doing, living, and imagining a better world,” said artist Nitasha Dhillon of MTL Collective. “Art should not violate human rights, art should not endanger workers lives, and art should not create debt slaves. And definitely not be part of a system that creates debt bondage.”

She sees yesterday’s action as “a call for solidarity and a call for museums to do the right thing.” She added that “it’s important for museum goers to understand what kind of system they are participating in.”

Source

Victims no longer: Spain’s anti-eviction movement 
December 20, 2013

The story of Spain’s economic, social and political crisis is one about property, need and value. And at the heart of that story lies a question that is familiar to the point of cliché: what makes a house a home? It may sound trivial, but in a country where families are sleeping in the street, entire building blocks are devoid of residents, and housing remains out of reach for major swathes of the population (despite the ubiquity of “For Sale” signs in the urban landscape), it is a question that remains largely unanswered by policymakers.

For over four years, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH or “Mortgage Victims’ Platform”, in English) have pursued a simple and poetic response to this question: people living together, for one another. Their campaign for mutual aid, solidarity and civil disobedience strike at the very core of Spain’s power structure, and despite an often overwhelming institutional blockade, they have received the support of up to 90% of the population.

For insight into the PAH’s spectacular support, radically transformative praxis and the institutional challenges they face, I recently spoke with Elvi Mármol, a PAH activist from the city of Sabadell, just north of Barcelona. Though she worked for several years as an accountant, today she is a self-employed sales representative. This, she says, gives her a considerable amount of time to dedicate to the PAH. She is a member of PAH Sabadell’s Cases Committee and the community manager for their social networks, as well as a member of the Collective Bargaining and International Committees for PAH Catalonia.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

How did you come to join the PAH?

Elvi Mármol (EM): Like many people, I arrived at the PAH midway through 2011 through the 15M movement. I wasn’t a part of the 15M movement in my city, but I received a pamphlet promoting a talk by the PAH at the plaza in front of city hall. Until then, I had only heard of the movement through the media and didn’t know that it was present in Sabadell, so I jumped at the chance and went to the talk. I knew that my knowledge of financial products and my experience in fiscal consultancy and bank negotiations would be helpful, so I got to work right away. I was able to contribute, but what I didn’t know was how much the PAH would help me — it’s so much that we’d have to do another interview.

What spurred the creation of the PAH?

EM: In 2007, housing prices were at an all-time high. If we consider these disproportionate prices along with soaring interest rates and decreasing income (since unemployment went from 8.3% in 2006 to 17% in 2009), we find ourselves with an impoverished and debt-ridden citizenry, living in fear of an uncertain future.

In 2006, the V de Vivienda movement (a reference to V for Vendetta that translates to “V for Housing”) was born in Barcelona. For two years, they articulated the struggle for the right to decent housing and denounced the housing bubble, calling for an end to the violence of real estate speculation. When the bubble burst two years later, some of that group’s activists realized that people were going to stop being able to pay their mortgages, and that the struggle would no longer be about access to housing but that many families would actually be left without a home. They also discovered that Spanish mortgage law would leave them with a debt hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives. So in February of 2009, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) was born, which put the failure of housing policies on the agenda and would prove a major blow to the administrations that had pushed the population to become indebted.

The biggest difference between the V de Vivienda movement and the PAH is its members. While the first was mostly made up of young people in precarious work who organized and fought to leave their parents’ homes, the majority of the PAH is made up of families who are being foreclosed on.

What’s the relationship between 15M and the PAH?

EM: The PAH was formed two years before the 15M movement burst onto the scene; there were already groups in Barcelona, Sabadell, Terrassa, Murcia and other cities. The 15M movement in the plazas, then later in the neighborhood assemblies, helped launch PAHs all over Spain. Now there are over 200 PAH groups. And the 15M movement was especially helpful to the Stop Evictions campaign: we went from being 50 or so at the evictions to being hundreds.

Full article

French students barricade high school to protest deportation of classmatesOctober 21, 2013
Thousands of French high school students have launched protests across Paris, building barricades to block their own schools’ entrances, to show their opposition to aggressive government deportations of their classmates.
The uprisings were touched off by what many are calling the “inhumane” expulsion of a 15-year-old Kosovan Roma student Leonarda Dibrani, who was arrested in front of her fellow pupils while she was on a school field trip earlier this month after her family was denied asylum. She, her five siblings, and her parents were subsequently deported to Kosovo.
Protests swept more than 30 schools in Paris and the suburbs on Thursday, according to the high school student union the UNL, with the Paris education authority reporting 14 schools were “disrupted.”
Students blocked entrances to several schools with barricades and protests. The Guardian reports, “At one high school in Paris students piled green garbage cans in front of the entrance and hung a banner saying ‘Education in danger.’” A mass protest took place at Paris’s Place de la Nation, France 24 reports.
Some reports have emerged of clashes between protesters and police—who wielded batons and fired teargas.
"Everybody should have a chance. Everybody should have a job, work and have a family. When children try to achieve that, France refuses, and that is not my country," said protester Romain Desprez in an interview with the Guardian.
“Everyone has the right to an education,” Steven Nassiri, spokesman of the FIDL high school union, told AFP, explaining that protesters were demanding the return of students who had been deported from France.
Deportations like Dibrani’s are commonplace in a country known for its harsh immigration laws targeting its many migrant communities. France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls sparked public outrage last month when he declared that a vast majority of the country’s 20,000 Roma residents should be deported.
"My home is in France," Dibrani declared in French when interviewed from the Kosovo city of Mitrovica where she was deported, the Guardian reports. “I don’t speak the language here [in Kosovo] and I don’t know anyone. I just want to go back to France and forget everything that happened.”
Source

French students barricade high school to protest deportation of classmates
October 21, 2013

Thousands of French high school students have launched protests across Paris, building barricades to block their own schools’ entrances, to show their opposition to aggressive government deportations of their classmates.

The uprisings were touched off by what many are calling the “inhumane” expulsion of a 15-year-old Kosovan Roma student Leonarda Dibrani, who was arrested in front of her fellow pupils while she was on a school field trip earlier this month after her family was denied asylum. She, her five siblings, and her parents were subsequently deported to Kosovo.

Protests swept more than 30 schools in Paris and the suburbs on Thursday, according to the high school student union the UNL, with the Paris education authority reporting 14 schools were “disrupted.”

Students blocked entrances to several schools with barricades and protests. The Guardian reports, “At one high school in Paris students piled green garbage cans in front of the entrance and hung a banner saying ‘Education in danger.’” A mass protest took place at Paris’s Place de la Nation, France 24 reports.

Some reports have emerged of clashes between protesters and police—who wielded batons and fired teargas.

"Everybody should have a chance. Everybody should have a job, work and have a family. When children try to achieve that, France refuses, and that is not my country," said protester Romain Desprez in an interview with the Guardian.

“Everyone has the right to an education,” Steven Nassiri, spokesman of the FIDL high school union, told AFP, explaining that protesters were demanding the return of students who had been deported from France.

Deportations like Dibrani’s are commonplace in a country known for its harsh immigration laws targeting its many migrant communities. France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls sparked public outrage last month when he declared that a vast majority of the country’s 20,000 Roma residents should be deported.

"My home is in France," Dibrani declared in French when interviewed from the Kosovo city of Mitrovica where she was deported, the Guardian reports. “I don’t speak the language here [in Kosovo] and I don’t know anyone. I just want to go back to France and forget everything that happened.”

Source

progenyofpenitence

fotojournalismus:

Greece | September 18, 2013

1. Riot police walk past a burning garbage bin in front of the Bank of Greece during a protest in Thessaloniki. Violent clashes broke out Wednesday in several Greek cities after a member of the country’s far-right Golden Dawn party was arrested in the fatal stabbing of a 34-year-old musician described as an anti-fascist activist. The stabbing drew condemnation from across Greece’s political spectrum and from abroad. While the extremist Golden Dawn has been blamed for numerous violent attacks in the past, the overnight stabbing is the most serious violence directly attributed to a member so far. (Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP)

2. Protesters holding banners cast their shadows as they march during an anti-government rally in front of the parliament in Athens. Greek workers shut schools and forced hospitals to operate with only emergency staff on Wednesday at the start of a 48-hour strike against the latest plans to fire thousands of public sector employees. (Yorgos Karahalis /Reuters)

3. High school students shout slogans in solidarity with their striking teachers during a 48 hour general strike in Athens. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

4. Protesters march in front of the parliament as words are seen on the ground during an anti-government rally in Athens. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

5. Protesters from the health sector take part in a protest during a 48 hour general strike in Athens. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

6. People gather at the site where Pavlos Fissas, a 35-year-old anti-racism rapper was stabbed to death, by a man who sympathized with the far-right Golden Dawn group, at Keratsini suburb southwest of Athens. Fissas, 35, who went by the stage name Killah P, was stabbed twice in the heart and chest on Tuesday night in a brawl after a soccer match shown in a cafe in Keratsini, a working-class suburb of Athens. (John Kolesidis/Reuters)

7. Riot police officers detain protesters after clashes between police and anti-fascist protesters in the northern Greek town of Thessaloniki. (Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters)

8. A protester is chased by police during clashes between police and anti-fascist protesters following the killing of a 35-year-old anti-racism rapper in an Athens suburb. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

9. A protester throws a flare to riot police during a protest at the suburb of Keratsini near Athens. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

We stand behind the Syrian people’s revolution: NO to foreign interventionSeptember 1, 2013
Over 150 thousand were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and disabled, millions of people displaced inside and outside Syria. Cities, villages, and neighborhoods were destroyed fully or partially, using all sorts of weapons, including warplanes, scud missiles, bombs, and tanks, all paid for by the sweat and blood of the Syrian people. This was under the pretext of defending the homeland and achieving military balance with Israel (whose occupation of Syrian land is, in fact, being protected by the Syrian regime, which failed to reply to any of its continuing aggressions).
Yet, despite the enormous losses mentioned above, befalling all Syrians, and the calamity inflicted on them, no international organization or major country – or a lesser one – felt the need to provide practical solidarity or support the Syrians in their struggle for their most basic rights, human dignity, and social justice.
The only exception was some Gulf countries, more specifically Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, their aim was to control the nature of the conflict and steer it in a sectarian direction, distorting the Syrian revolution and aiming to abort it, as a reflection of their deepest fear that the revolutionary flame will reach their shores. So they backed obscurantist takfiri groups, coming, for the most part, from the four corners of the world, to impose a grotesque vision for rule based on Islamic sharia. These groups were engaged, time and time again, in terrifying massacres against Syrian citizens who opposed their repressive measures and aggressions inside areas under their control or under attack, such as the recent example of villages in the Latakia countryside.
A large block of hostile forces, from around the world, is conspiring against the Syrian people’s revolution, which erupted in tandem with the uprisings spreading through a large section of the Arab region and the Maghreb for the past three years. The people’s uprisings aimed to put an end to a history of brutality, injustice, and exploitation and attain the rights to freedom, dignity, and social justice.
However, this did not only provoke local brutal dictatorships, but also most of the imperialist forces seeking to perpetuate the theft of the wealth of our people, in addition to the various reactionary classes and forces throughout those areas and in surrounding countries.
As for Syria, the alliance fighting against the people’s revolution comprises a host of reactionary sectarian forces, spearheaded by Iran and confessional militias in Iraq, and, to much regret, Hezbollah’s strike force, which is drowning in the quagmire of defending a profoundly corrupt and criminal dictatorial regime.
This unfortunate situation has also struck a major section of the traditional Arab left with Stalinist roots, whether in Syria itself or in Lebanon, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab region – and worldwide – which is clearly biased towards the wretched alliance surrounding the Assad regime. The justification is that some see it as a “resilient” or even a “resistance” regime, despite its long history – throughout its existence in power – of protecting the Zionist occupation of the Golan Heights, its constant bloody repression of various groups resisting Israel, be it Palestinian or Lebanese (or Syrian), and remaining idle and subservient, since the October 1973 war, concerning Israel’s aggressions on Syrian territories. This bias will have serious ramifications on ordinary Syrians’ position regarding the left in general.
The United Nations and the Security Council, in particular, was unable to condemn the crimes of a regime, which the Syrian people rejected continuously and peacefully for more than seven months, while the bullets of the snipers and shabbiha took demonstrators one by one and day after day and while the most influential activists were being detained and subjected to the worst kinds of torture and elimination in the prisons and detention centers. All the while, the world remained completely silent and in a state of total negativity.
The situation persisted with small difference after the people in revolution decided to take up arms and the emergence of what became known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – whose command and soldiers came, to a large extent, from the regular army. This led to the horrific escalation of crimes by the regime.
Russian imperialism, the most important ally of the Baathist regime in Damascus, which provides it with all sorts of support, remains on the lookout to block any attempt to condemn those crimes in the Security Council. The United States, on the other hand, does not find a real problem in the continuation of the status quo, with all the apparent repercussions and destruction of the country. This is despite the threats and intimidation utilized by the US president, every time someone in the opposition raises the question of the use of chemical weapons by the regime, up until the latest escalation, when it was considered crossing a “red line.”
It is clear that Obama, who gives the impression that he will go ahead with his threats, would have felt great embarrassment if he did not do so, since it will not only impact negatively on the president, but also on the image of the mighty and arrogant state that he leads in the eyes of subservient Arab countries and the entire world.
The imminent strike against the Syrian armed forces is led by the US in essence. However, it occurs with the understanding and cooperation of allied imperialist countries, even without rationalizing it through the usual farce, known as international legitimacy (namely the decisions of the UN, which was and remains representative of the interests of major powers, whether in conflict or in alliance, depending on the circumstances, differences, and balances among them). In other words, the strike will not wait for the Security Council due to the anticipated Russian-Chinese veto.
Unfortunately, many in the Syrian opposition are gambling on this strike and the US position in general. They believe this would create an opportunity for them to seize power, skipping over the movement and of the masses and their independent decision. It should not be a surprise, then, that the representatives of this opposition and the FSA had no reservations on providing information to the US about proposed targets for the strike.
In all cases, we agree on the following:
The western imperialist alliance will strike several positions and vital parts of the military and civilian infrastructure in Syria (with several casualties, as usual). However, as it was keen to announce, the strikes will not be meant to topple the regime. They are merely intended to punish, in Obama’s words, the current Syrian leadership and save face for the US administration, after all the threats concerning the use of chemical weapons.
The US president’s intentions to punish the Syrian leadership does not stem, in any way or form, from Washington’s solidarity with the suffering of children who fell in the Ghouta massacres, but from its commitment to what Obama calls the vital interests of the US and its homeland security, in addition to Israel’s interests and security.
The Syrian army and its regional allies, led by the Iranian regime, will not have enough courage, most probably, to fulfil what seemed to be threats by their senior officials that any western attack on Syria will ignite the entire region. But this option remains on the table, as a final option with catastrophic results.
The imminent western imperialist assault does not intend to support the Syrian revolution in any way. It will aim to push Damascus into the bargaining table and allow Bashar al-Assad to retreat from the foreground, but keeping the regime in place, while greatly improving conditions to strengthen the position of US imperialism in the future Syria against Russian imperialism.
The more those participating in the continuing popular mobilization – who are more aware, principled, and dedicated to the future of Syria and its people – realize these facts, their consequences, results, and act accordingly, the more this will contribute to aiding the Syrian people to successfully pick a true revolutionary leadership. In the process of a committed struggle based on the current and future interests of their people, this would produce a radical program consistent with those interests, which could be promoted and put into practice on the road to victory.
No to all forms of imperialist intervention, whether by the US or Russia.
No to all forms of reactionary sectarian interventions, whether by Iran or the Gulf countries.
No to the intervention of Hezbollah, which warrants the maximum of condemnation.
Down with all illusions about the imminent US military strike.
Break open the arms depots for the Syrian people to struggle for freedom, dignity, and social justice.
Victory to a free democratic Syria and down with the Assad dictatorship and all dictatorships forever.
Long live the Syrian people’s revolution.
–Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt) – Revolutionary Left Current (Syria) – Union of Communists (Iraq) – Al-Mounadil-a (Morocco) – Socialist Forum (Lebanon)
Source

We stand behind the Syrian people’s revolution: NO to foreign intervention
September 1, 2013

Over 150 thousand were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and disabled, millions of people displaced inside and outside Syria. Cities, villages, and neighborhoods were destroyed fully or partially, using all sorts of weapons, including warplanes, scud missiles, bombs, and tanks, all paid for by the sweat and blood of the Syrian people. This was under the pretext of defending the homeland and achieving military balance with Israel (whose occupation of Syrian land is, in fact, being protected by the Syrian regime, which failed to reply to any of its continuing aggressions).

Yet, despite the enormous losses mentioned above, befalling all Syrians, and the calamity inflicted on them, no international organization or major country – or a lesser one – felt the need to provide practical solidarity or support the Syrians in their struggle for their most basic rights, human dignity, and social justice.

The only exception was some Gulf countries, more specifically Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, their aim was to control the nature of the conflict and steer it in a sectarian direction, distorting the Syrian revolution and aiming to abort it, as a reflection of their deepest fear that the revolutionary flame will reach their shores. So they backed obscurantist takfiri groups, coming, for the most part, from the four corners of the world, to impose a grotesque vision for rule based on Islamic sharia. These groups were engaged, time and time again, in terrifying massacres against Syrian citizens who opposed their repressive measures and aggressions inside areas under their control or under attack, such as the recent example of villages in the Latakia countryside.

A large block of hostile forces, from around the world, is conspiring against the Syrian people’s revolution, which erupted in tandem with the uprisings spreading through a large section of the Arab region and the Maghreb for the past three years. The people’s uprisings aimed to put an end to a history of brutality, injustice, and exploitation and attain the rights to freedom, dignity, and social justice.

However, this did not only provoke local brutal dictatorships, but also most of the imperialist forces seeking to perpetuate the theft of the wealth of our people, in addition to the various reactionary classes and forces throughout those areas and in surrounding countries.

As for Syria, the alliance fighting against the people’s revolution comprises a host of reactionary sectarian forces, spearheaded by Iran and confessional militias in Iraq, and, to much regret, Hezbollah’s strike force, which is drowning in the quagmire of defending a profoundly corrupt and criminal dictatorial regime.

This unfortunate situation has also struck a major section of the traditional Arab left with Stalinist roots, whether in Syria itself or in Lebanon, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab region – and worldwide – which is clearly biased towards the wretched alliance surrounding the Assad regime. The justification is that some see it as a “resilient” or even a “resistance” regime, despite its long history – throughout its existence in power – of protecting the Zionist occupation of the Golan Heights, its constant bloody repression of various groups resisting Israel, be it Palestinian or Lebanese (or Syrian), and remaining idle and subservient, since the October 1973 war, concerning Israel’s aggressions on Syrian territories. This bias will have serious ramifications on ordinary Syrians’ position regarding the left in general.

The United Nations and the Security Council, in particular, was unable to condemn the crimes of a regime, which the Syrian people rejected continuously and peacefully for more than seven months, while the bullets of the snipers and shabbiha took demonstrators one by one and day after day and while the most influential activists were being detained and subjected to the worst kinds of torture and elimination in the prisons and detention centers. All the while, the world remained completely silent and in a state of total negativity.

The situation persisted with small difference after the people in revolution decided to take up arms and the emergence of what became known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – whose command and soldiers came, to a large extent, from the regular army. This led to the horrific escalation of crimes by the regime.

Russian imperialism, the most important ally of the Baathist regime in Damascus, which provides it with all sorts of support, remains on the lookout to block any attempt to condemn those crimes in the Security Council. The United States, on the other hand, does not find a real problem in the continuation of the status quo, with all the apparent repercussions and destruction of the country. This is despite the threats and intimidation utilized by the US president, every time someone in the opposition raises the question of the use of chemical weapons by the regime, up until the latest escalation, when it was considered crossing a “red line.”

It is clear that Obama, who gives the impression that he will go ahead with his threats, would have felt great embarrassment if he did not do so, since it will not only impact negatively on the president, but also on the image of the mighty and arrogant state that he leads in the eyes of subservient Arab countries and the entire world.

The imminent strike against the Syrian armed forces is led by the US in essence. However, it occurs with the understanding and cooperation of allied imperialist countries, even without rationalizing it through the usual farce, known as international legitimacy (namely the decisions of the UN, which was and remains representative of the interests of major powers, whether in conflict or in alliance, depending on the circumstances, differences, and balances among them). In other words, the strike will not wait for the Security Council due to the anticipated Russian-Chinese veto.

Unfortunately, many in the Syrian opposition are gambling on this strike and the US position in general. They believe this would create an opportunity for them to seize power, skipping over the movement and of the masses and their independent decision. It should not be a surprise, then, that the representatives of this opposition and the FSA had no reservations on providing information to the US about proposed targets for the strike.

In all cases, we agree on the following:

  • The western imperialist alliance will strike several positions and vital parts of the military and civilian infrastructure in Syria (with several casualties, as usual). However, as it was keen to announce, the strikes will not be meant to topple the regime. They are merely intended to punish, in Obama’s words, the current Syrian leadership and save face for the US administration, after all the threats concerning the use of chemical weapons.
  • The US president’s intentions to punish the Syrian leadership does not stem, in any way or form, from Washington’s solidarity with the suffering of children who fell in the Ghouta massacres, but from its commitment to what Obama calls the vital interests of the US and its homeland security, in addition to Israel’s interests and security.
  • The Syrian army and its regional allies, led by the Iranian regime, will not have enough courage, most probably, to fulfil what seemed to be threats by their senior officials that any western attack on Syria will ignite the entire region. But this option remains on the table, as a final option with catastrophic results.
  • The imminent western imperialist assault does not intend to support the Syrian revolution in any way. It will aim to push Damascus into the bargaining table and allow Bashar al-Assad to retreat from the foreground, but keeping the regime in place, while greatly improving conditions to strengthen the position of US imperialism in the future Syria against Russian imperialism.
  • The more those participating in the continuing popular mobilization – who are more aware, principled, and dedicated to the future of Syria and its people – realize these facts, their consequences, results, and act accordingly, the more this will contribute to aiding the Syrian people to successfully pick a true revolutionary leadership. In the process of a committed struggle based on the current and future interests of their people, this would produce a radical program consistent with those interests, which could be promoted and put into practice on the road to victory.

No to all forms of imperialist intervention, whether by the US or Russia.

No to all forms of reactionary sectarian interventions, whether by Iran or the Gulf countries.

No to the intervention of Hezbollah, which warrants the maximum of condemnation.

Down with all illusions about the imminent US military strike.

Break open the arms depots for the Syrian people to struggle for freedom, dignity, and social justice.

Victory to a free democratic Syria and down with the Assad dictatorship and all dictatorships forever.

Long live the Syrian people’s revolution.


Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt) – Revolutionary Left Current (Syria) – Union of Communists (Iraq) – Al-Mounadil-a (Morocco) – Socialist Forum (Lebanon)

Source

Day 29 of the California prisoners hunger strike: In Pelican Bay and other prisons throughout California, approximately 30,000 inmates are nearing their second month of the largest prison hunger strike in US history. Committed to maintaining the strike indefinitely, they are demanding an end to a vast range of abuses, including solitary confinement, long-term isolation, denial of family contact, and absence of legal protections.
Palestinian hunger strikers have expressed their solidarity with inmates in California, urging them to stay strong in their commitment to ending their isolation and to remember that they are not alone. Internationally, as one, we stand — internationally, as one, we resist.
Art by Nidal El-Khairy

Day 29 of the California prisoners hunger strike: In Pelican Bay and other prisons throughout California, approximately 30,000 inmates are nearing their second month of the largest prison hunger strike in US history. Committed to maintaining the strike indefinitely, they are demanding an end to a vast range of abuses, including solitary confinement, long-term isolation, denial of family contact, and absence of legal protections.

Palestinian hunger strikers have expressed their solidarity with inmates in California, urging them to stay strong in their commitment to ending their isolation and to remember that they are not alone. Internationally, as one, we stand — internationally, as one, we resist.

Art by Nidal El-Khairy

California prison officials say 30,000 inmates refuse mealsJuly 9, 2013
California officials Monday said 30,000 inmates refused meals at the start of what could be the largest prison protest in state history.

Inmates in two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick.
The corrections department will not acknowledge a hunger strike until inmates have missed nine consecutive meals. Even so, Thornton said, Monday’s numbers are far larger than those California saw two years earlier during a series of hunger strikes that drew international attention.
Despite the widespread work stoppages and meal refusals, Thornton said state prisons operated as usual through the day. “Everything has been running smoothly,” she said. “It was normal. There were no incidents.”
The protest, announced for months, is organized by a small group of inmates held in segregation at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border. Their list of demands, reiterated Monday, center on state policies that allow inmates to be held in isolation indefinitely, in some cases for decades, for ties to prison gangs.
Though prison officials contend those gang ties are validated, the state last year began releasing inmates from segregation who had no evidence of gang-related behavior. Nearly half of those reviewed have been returned to the general population.
The protest involves the same issues and many of the same inmates who led a series of protests in California prisons two years ago. At the height of those 2011 hunger strikes, more than 11,600 inmates at one point refused meals. The correction department’s official tally, which counts only those inmates on any given day who have skipped nine consecutive meals, never rose above 6,600.
Source

California prison officials say 30,000 inmates refuse meals
July 9, 2013

California officials Monday said 30,000 inmates refused meals at the start of what could be the largest prison protest in state history.

Inmates in two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick.

The corrections department will not acknowledge a hunger strike until inmates have missed nine consecutive meals. Even so, Thornton said, Monday’s numbers are far larger than those California saw two years earlier during a series of hunger strikes that drew international attention.

Despite the widespread work stoppages and meal refusals, Thornton said state prisons operated as usual through the day. “Everything has been running smoothly,” she said. “It was normal. There were no incidents.”

The protest, announced for months, is organized by a small group of inmates held in segregation at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border. Their list of demands, reiterated Monday, center on state policies that allow inmates to be held in isolation indefinitely, in some cases for decades, for ties to prison gangs.

Though prison officials contend those gang ties are validated, the state last year began releasing inmates from segregation who had no evidence of gang-related behavior. Nearly half of those reviewed have been returned to the general population.

The protest involves the same issues and many of the same inmates who led a series of protests in California prisons two years ago. At the height of those 2011 hunger strikes, more than 11,600 inmates at one point refused meals. The correction department’s official tally, which counts only those inmates on any given day who have skipped nine consecutive meals, never rose above 6,600.

Source