Socialist Worker

Review of 2002: the year of resistance against poverty and war

Issue No. 1832

THERE WERE two sharply contrasting faces of 2002: the mushrooming resistance to the priorities of the world's leaders, and more evidence of the cost of those priorities. We saw the biggest political demonstrations in Europe since the Second World War.

At the same time the year ended with 30 million in Africa threatened by starvation and the US preparing to unleash its war machine on Iraq. The yearning for change was best expressed by the one million strong anti-war march in Florence, Italy, after the hugely successful European Social Forum. It was the culmination of a rising wave of mass demonstrations.

Across Europe, South America and parts of Africa and Asia, workers launched general strikes to protest against privatisation, low pay, attacks on their rights and the overwhelming sense that the system does not deliver what it promises.

At the same time military spending across the world rose to $839 billion. Every day in sub-Saharan Africa three times as many people die from Aids as died in the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001. Remember the electric energy of the protests against war. Remember the agony of those who suffered the bombs in Afghanistan.

There is a new left and a new anti-capitalist movement growing across the world. There are urgent challenges to face. 2003 is set to have the elements of horror and the resistance to it in even greater measure. We should draw on the inspiration from last year to meet that challenge.


Justice for Palestine-a defining issue

JENIN. THE name will forever be remembered for the terrible massacre of Palestinian men, women and children in April 2002. Israeli forces encircled the refugee camp and unleashed days of savagery. Justin Huggler of the Independent was just one of the journalists who could scarcely believe what they found when they were eventually allowed in. 'A terrible crime has been committed by Israel in Jenin,' he wrote.

'A woman with her leg all but ripped off by a helicopter rocket, the mangled remains hanging on by a thread of skin as she slowly bleeds to death. A ten year old boy lying dead in the street, his arm blown off and a great hole in his side. The wounded left to die slowly, because the ambulances were not allowed to treat them. We saw the helicopters rain down on desperately crowded areas. The Israeli army sealed off the entire area around Jenin. That is because they have something to hide-the bodies. For days Jenin refugee camp became a slaughterhouse.'

Israel's killing went on throughout the year. Over 2,000 Palestinians have been murdered in the last 26 months, a sickening rate of 20 a week. One in four of the victims are children.

The US and Britain continued to back Israel, and the Palestinians desperately tried to resist. Palestine became a burning issue for hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Two huge marches-one up to 100,000 strong-took place in London. Mass demonstrations shook the Middle East. Justice for Palestine also became a major theme of successive anti-war mobilisations.


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Features
Sat 4 Jan 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1832
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