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International round-up—France, Switzerland, Tunisia and Myanmar

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Issue 2745
Protests in Bordeaux to mark International Womens Day
Protests in Bordeaux to mark International Women’s Day (Pic: Révolution Permanente)

Thousands of people joined marches in the run-up to International Women’s Day across France last weekend.

Angry demonstrations, mostly of women, took place in Paris, Lyon, Montpellier, Lille, Nice, Quimper and other cities.

The marches denounced the government’s lack of action over violence against women, and called for women’s equality.

In Paris a group of feminist activists held up posters denouncing sex work.

They were attacked by other marchers.

Sex work is not a route to liberation, and the movement should focus on the main enemy—the state and the bosses.

But the particular group calling for an end to prostitution is notorious for assaults on trans rights and condemnation of Islam.

One of their leading figures is Marguerite Stern. She says, “The veil is not a garment but a tool for the domination of men over women.” And she adds, “I have the right to say that I hate Communism, that I hate Nazism, that I hate Islam.”

Such views chime with the government’s assault on Muslims, as well as targeting trans people.

Face covering ban is racist

Switzerland will ban women from wearing a burqa or niqab, following a referendum. The proposal passed by 51.2 percent and prohibits full face coverings in streets, shops and restaurants.

But face coverings are permitted in places of prayer and also for health and safety reasons—such as face masks during the pandemic.

Some supporters say the referendum didn’t refer to Islam.

But it was proposed by the right wing Swiss People’s Party. Its campaign ads showed women in a niqab with the slogan, “Stop extremism! Yes to the veil ban.”

Attacks on Muslims must be resisted.

Hundreds join Tunisia protests

Hundreds of people marched in Tunisia, North Africa, on Saturday demanding the release of a prominent LGBT+ activist and all others arrested for protesting against the government.

The protest was in response to the arrest of Rania Amdouni, who was singled out by cops and jailed for her part in the demonstrations.

Rania is one of more than 1,000 people to have been arrested since protests began in January.

Protesters are angry at high unemployment and the movement has piled pressure on the government.

The main government party, Ennahda, mobilised tens of thousands of people in its defence last month. Yet protests against it are persistent.

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights recorded 6,500 protests in 2020, all of which were motivated by economic, social and environmental demands.

Myanmar hit by general strike

A general strike in Myanmar on Monday of this week shut down most of the commercial centre of Yangon, including hospitals, ministry offices and banks.

Tens of thousands took the streets in protest at February’s military coup. The army regime responded with brutality.

It used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades. It also brought in bulldozers to smash the barricades built to keep the police out.

Militarised police toured neighbourhoods ahead of the strike to try and round up activists. They occupied two hospitals because doctors and nurses have played a prominent role in the movement.

The general strike will increase the pressure on the regime, but to stop the carnage it should be extended indefinitely.

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