Socialist Worker

Letters

Issue No. 1778

War against world's poor

We are again seeing the big powers trying to sort out the world's problems through military force. More and more countries are on George Bush's list of targets – Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, North Korea and others.

This is a continuation of the policy of the Cold War. That produced huge suffering in many parts of the world. Many of the problems we see today are products of the Cold War, capitalism and imperialism. And we should not forget that the results of the conflicts encouraged by the imperialist powers were the destruction of powerful working class movements. The big powers encouraged nationalist and religious dictatorships to undermine popular movements. They trained them, and provided weapons and intelligence to use against workers and peasants.

So, for example, the criminal Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq in 1968 and smashed the working class movement.

He was backed by the US as he imprisoned and executed thousands of members of the Iraqi Communist Party and trade unions. The Kurdish minority faced brutal oppression, including the use of poison gas in Halabjah in 1988. Weapons and intelligence were provided to the Iraqi regime by the US, Russia and Western countries like Britain.

The political problems and suffering today are happening to secure the multinational companies' interests and profits. They don't care about the millions of people who live in poverty around the world. The policy is bringing more war, starvation, murder, lack of democracy, injustice and terror.

The brutal US-led war today does not bring any hope of peace, but is increasing anger and the desire for revenge against capitalism and imperialism. This is not a new world order. It is a new war order against the working class and humanity.
SARDAR SALIH, London


Germany's Greens are off to war

The German Green Party voted by two to one at its recent conference to back the deployment of German forces as part of Bush's war. The decision shows how far the party has moved over the last ten years. The Greens came out of the strong peace and anti-nuclear movements of the 1970s.

Now, as a junior partner in the SPD-led coalition government, the Greens have supported German involvement in both the Balkan and Afghan wars. The argument from Green leader Joschka Fischer which clinched the conference was that the Greens have achieved a lot as part of the coalition, and that voting against the war would mean pulling out of the government. The logic of holding government office has pulled the Greens sharply to the right.

Many local Green branches have collapsed as a result over the last few years. Individual Greens, including some prominent figures, are spending much of their political activity in the peace movement and not in the party itself.
CHRISTINA BUCHHOLTZ, Berlin


Second wave of movement

As bloody reports emerge from within Afghanistan, such as the horrific Kunduz prison massacre, there is a renewed opposition to the war. We are seeing a second wave of people contacting the Stop the War Coalition office.

University departments, social clubs, council workers and ex-servicemen and women are among many calling to get involved. There are now over 200 associated organisations, union branches and affiliated groups such as Whittington Hospital Workers Against The War, and Stop The War groups have now started up in primary schools. There is anger that our elected MPs are allowing parliament to push through legislation that denies basic human rights.

The coalition and its affiliates are calling for individuals and groups to hold teach-ins and debates in their workplaces, colleges and schools. Politicians are already scared by how big the anti-war movement is. It is time to get stuck in, and get bigger and stronger!
LUCY and BEN at the Stop the War Coalition office


Raids bring death

An 'immigration snatch squad' (two police officers and two immigration officials) raided a high rise flat in Streatham, south west London, a week ago on Sunday.

Five people were in the third floor flat. One fell to his death from the balcony. The government has imposed high targets for the numbers to be deported by 'snatch squads'. There have been other similar cases of asylum seekers falling to their deaths during immigration raids:

Kwanele Eldah Siziba (27) fell 150 feet to her death as she attempted to flee from what she believed to be immigration officials coming to deport her in April 1994.

Joseph Nnalue (31) died after falling from his second floor flat in Stockwell, south London, when police and immigration officials called to question him regarding his immigration status in October 1994.

Noorjahan Begum (35) died after falling 30 feet from the balcony of a flat in Stepney, east London, in March 1996. Two immigration officers called at the flat early on the morning of her death.

There should be an immediate halt to snatch squad raids.
JOHN O, Birmingham


Debates

Some 70 people heard Hilary Wainwright (editor of Red Pepper) and Malcolm Pittock (secretary of Bolton CND) debate the 'war on terrorism' with Bolton Labour MPs Brian Iddon and David Crausby two weeks ago. The meeting was sponsored by Bolton National Union of Teachers and chaired by Bernie Gallagher, a Labour Party activist.

The audience included trade union activists, young Asians, members of the Normandy Veterans Association, and many others.

While a minority spoke in support of the Labour MPs' defence of the bombing of Afghanistan, the overwhelming majority of speakers from the audience were met with warm applause when they opposed the bombing and the resulting humanitarian crisis. I'm sure other areas could organise similarly successful debates.
PAUL MAURINS, Bolton Stop the War Coalition


Workplaces

We organised a 'Justice not war' meeting in my school in Glasgow at lunchtime. Some 18 staff came along and were addressed by a member of the refugee community in Glasgow and a speaker from the Fire Brigades Union. Meetings like this are effective in addressing people directly with the issues, and help to build solidarity with those affected by war.

They expose the reality of suffering behind the government spin. The support for the meeting was in stark contrast to the national EIS teaching union in Scotland, which disallowed anti-war motions for its executive council meeting.

Yet again genuine humanitarian motions are sacrificed on the altar of bureaucratic New Labour agendas. This is disappointing, to say the least, as education towards a more peaceful society is the only foundation on which to build the future of both teachers and pupils.
LESLEY ATKINS, Glasgow


Opposition to the war

The opposition to Bush's war is not confined to meetings called specifically against it. Everyone concerned by the bloodshed in Afghanistan will be cheered by the meeting of the Merseyside Pensioners Liaison Committee last week. We unanimously decided to send an email to Tony Blair declaring that we oppose the war in Afghanistan.

We also unanimously decided to write to Rodney Bickerstaffe, president of the National Pensioners Convention, urging them to organise a national demonstration of pensioners against the war.

The meeting was later addressed by peace campaigner Bruce Kent, who is also a member of the National Pensioners Convention.
NORAH RUSHTON, Merseyside


Teach-ins

The Sheffield Stop the War Coalition held a brilliant teach-in on the war two weeks ago. The range of workshops on offer included Palestine, welfare not warfare, civil liberties, media and the war coverage, and a debate with the Green Party on globalisation.

I was also really impressed with the way people from different groups and organisations united around our central aim of stopping the war, and at the same time clarified ideas. As a result of this event people went away with a greater knowledge of the arguments and debates surrounding the war.

We have now decided to consolidate and build upon the success of this teach-in, and organise meetings and forums among youth and in the ethnic minority communities of Sheffield.
ANGELA SHANN, Sheffield


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