04 April 2013

Does France supports self-determination - in Western Sahara?

Human Rights Watch asks French President Francois Hollande to pressurize Morocco to respect human rights in Western Sahara

New York, April 3, 2013 (Sahara Press Service) - Human Rights Watch called Monday on the French President Mr. François Hollande exert pressure on Morocco to respect human rights in Western Sahara and in Morocco, in a statement published on its website.

Human Rights Watch indicated that Mr. Hollande should raise ongoing human rights concerns in his meetings with Moroccan officials, including torture in detention, unfair military trials, restrictions on free expression rights, and the vulnerability of child domestic workers.

On February 17, a Rabat military court sentenced 25 Sahrawi civilians, including several human rights defenders, to prison terms, nine of them to life in prison, in an unfair trial that should not have gone before a military court, added the statement.

It therefore urged French President to voice concerns about the fairness of the trial of Gdeim Izik prisoners.

The Organization published on Monday a report condemning the Moroccan martial trial against Gdeim Izik group. (SPS)



Council of Ministers urges Hollande to convince Morocco to stop violating Saharawi human rights

Chahid Al Hafed (refugee camps), April 3, 2013 (Sahara Press Service) - The Council of Ministers urged Tuesday the French President François Hollande, on the occasion of his upcoming visit Morocco, to convince Moroccan party to stop its gross violations of Saharawi human rights, in a statement concluded a meeting on Tuesday chaired by the President of the Republic Mr. Mohamed Abdelaziz.

The Council called on Moroccan party to comply with international legitimacy for the decolonization of Western Sahara, through the just and democratic solution which is to enable the Saharawi people of his inalienable right to self-determination and independence, through free, just and impartial referendum supervised by the UN.

It hailed the struggle of Saharawi masses in occupied territories, in south Morocco and university sites, condemning the unjust trial against Gdeim Izik heroes, and calling for their immediate release along with all the Saharawi political prisoners.

The Council strongly condemned and deplored the continued campaigns of repressions carried out by Moroccan occupation forces against the defenseless Saharawi civilians, especially women, stressing the need for the UN to assume responsibility in accelerating the establishment of a UN mechanism to protect, monitor and report about human rights in Western Sahara.

It therefore expressed satisfaction for the outstanding presence of Saharawi cause and for the solidarity and sympathy with Saharawi people that have been expressed at the World Social Forum, hosted by Tunisia late March.

On other hand, the Council decided to refer a number of conventions and treaties of the African Union, in addition to a bill to regulate and protect public property and environment protection law, to the next session of the National Council (Parliament). (SPS)

Comrade Chávez won't go

Farooque ChowdhurY

 Issue 619


cc Patos

The death of President Chavez is a big loss not only to Venezuelans but also to everyone who believes in the essential struggle to create a just society for all. But his revolution, 21st century socialism as he called it, will live on.

Hugo Chávez won’t go. Class conflict-ridden history shall not allow Chávez to go. He is part of history, part of people struggling against dispossession, exploitation and poverty, part of people struggling for democracy and dignity. ‘Those who die for life, can’t be called dead,’ said Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan vice-president. This makes Chávez live forever among the people.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez has passed away ‘after battling a tough illness for nearly two years’. A number of persons celebrated the news by honking their car horns. Reaction of his class enemies tell the cause Chávez stood for. Identity of his class enemies tells the class position Chávez chose. The cause and the class position make Chávez part of people, part of people’s history, part of class struggle toilers carry forward. 

It was not his personal cause. It was a cause an old republic created with its failures, a cause determined by the society’s history. It was a cause the multitude demanded. It was a cause to which exploitation and inequality, injustice and lies, all practiced by the elites, provided the rationale. The cause was not driven by a personal vendetta. 

So, Chávez stood for the excluded, for the poor, for the prisoners of poverty, for the captives of starvation. So, Chávez stood for the shackled, for those compelled to live with indignity and dishonor. So, Chávez stood for labour tied to the yoke of capital, to the yoke of capital’s dictatorship and tyranny. So, began the historic political journey by Comandante Chávez.

Thus, a ‘sin’ was committed in the court of the rich, the propertied classes, the appropriators, the land speculators, the oil wealth thieves, the world capitalist system. Hence Chávez turned on a sworn-in class enemy of the powerful, of the key keepers of property, of the custodians of undue privileges.

Chávez united workers, peasants, small and medium business people, women, indigenous communities, youths and students, professionals, members of the military, and activists and almost the entire leadership in the camp striving to make a forward journey, a new political practice for exercising national sovereignty and independence free from all external influences and interferences. He forged the largest progressive social-political force in Venezuela. Over the years, he led a struggle so that power belongs to the people, not to the rich.

He engaged the armed forces en masse into activities aimed at social protection and national development. An archaic state machine was pressed to gear a transformation process, frustrating at times, yet a challenging task. 

Chávez made unique effort by cementing a Bolivarian civic-military political force relying on the people’s yearning for freedom and dignity. The aim was to reconstruct state institutions, a transformation process, and claim people’s sovereignty with the goal of transforming the social, political and state structures. 

He mobilized the poor and the most excluded parts of the society. This was his constituency and strength. In response, the rich tried to flood mass psyche with lies-stuffed media, and employed Guarimba, violent mobilizations using firearms, to provoke the government to resort to repressive measures.

Despite conspiracies the people of Venezuela achieved victories over the years. The latest victories include the people’s patience and unity in the face of propaganda on the health condition of Chávez and electoral victory by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in 20 of 23 states.

Chávez initiated unique experiments. With the existing reality these are difficult indeed. These provide people spaces for learning, getting mobilized, taking leadership roles, initiating plans, increasing awareness.

Venezuela can be called a land of cooperatives. Thousands of cooperatives are being organized in spheres of the society. There are thousands of farming cooperatives. It’s an initiative to change the way food is produced and to move towards sustainable and community-based food production. Lands expropriated from land speculators are being used to achieve food sovereignty. There are cooperatives of taxi drivers, janitors, small producers… 

Chávez initiated projects for the benefit of the people, especially the poor. At the centre, it’s the Bolivarian Revolution. There are missions, projects, for heath, education. The housing program constructs dignified homes for the poor. More than half-a-million houses for the poor have already been constructed. The public housing program plans to construct two million homes in the next six years. A project of Community Urban Agriculture with an aim to produce food free of agro-chemicals by not damaging soil and recycling organic waste has been initiated. The project contributes to attaining food sovereignty and breaks down alienation in community. People are initiating ‘socialist’ direct community production enterprises. Alternative, free and community media aims at promoting feminism, gender diversity and wages an anti-patriarchal fight. There is effort to initiate a new type of policing aimed at dealing with the problem of crime through prevention and community engagement.

Mass debate over Venezuela’s Socialist Plan of the Nation 2013-2019 was initiated. People participated in hundreds of assemblies to specify the draft plan proposed by Chávez. On this plan he was re-elected as president. It’s part of the struggle he began.

The struggle, a persistent fight to collectively transform the society, goes on. Thousands of revolutionary social movements join together to consolidate the Great Patriotic Pole, a platform of all the popular organizations and political parties supporting the Bolivarian Revolution. Peasant organizations with thousands of people are struggling for ‘Democratic Radicalization’ and Land Reform, and against bureaucracy as bureaucracy sabotages socialism. It’s people’s fight against bureaucracy. Their demands include acceleration of the land reform program and the elimination of corruption and obstacles to construct of a socialist economy. Workers are struggling to run industrial units properly. They are getting mobilized.

These are part of a fight for what Chávez called 21st Century Socialism. It’s a long struggle. A bitter and longer struggle is there in the coming days. Already there are news of destabilization plans by the right wing and their international masters. 

The people are rallying together to mourn the death of their president. They are expressing the defiant hope: ‘The struggle has already been ignited.’ People gathered in Plaza Bolivar, in front of Miraflores Palace, in central squares across the country voiced ‘Chávez lives, the struggle continues’, ‘people united will never be defeated’, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie ‘will never return to the Miraflores Palace’. These hopes keep Chávez alive. 

It is people, their steadfastness, awareness, organization, unity that will determine the future path. The voice of the people is saying to the Comandante, Alo Presidente (Hello President), ‘Nobody is Surrendering Here’.

This meaningless Falklands referendum will resolve nothing

The Guardian

Falkland Islanders are voting on remaining part of the UK, but it won't solve any of the sovereignty problems with Argentina 

Protesters in favour of UK sovereignty of the Falkland Islands in London
Protesters in favour of UK sovereignty of the Falkland Islands in London. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Over the next few days, around 1,600 inhabitants of the Falkland Islands will be asked whether they wish to "retain their current political status as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom".
Never before in British history has the outcome of a referendum been so predictable, its purpose so provocative. The referendum, to be held on Sunday and Monday, will solve nothing. It will exacerbate tired and anachronistic arguments about sovereignty.
The question will be accompanied by an explanation: "Under the Falkland Islands constitution the people of the Falklands Islands have the right to self-determination, which they can exercise at any time".
Explain that to the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands, expelled so that Britain could establish its "Indian Ocean territory" and allow the US to build a base on the archipelago's biggest island, Diego Garcia, from where aircraft have bombed targets in Iraq and Afghanistan, and refuelled CIA aircraft rendering individuals to Guantánamo Bay.
The Falklands executive council, made up of three legislative assembly members, insists the islands are not a "colony" even though the governor is appointed by London and has the power to impose laws on the inhabitants. It describes the islands as "entirely self-governing, except for defence and foreign affairs". It also says that the council "can review its status at any time. This could include full independence."
The referendum, of course, is a device to strengthen the British and Falklands governments' hand as Argentina steps up its calls for negotiations over the sovereignty over the islands.
The dispute over sovereignty has been going on for centuries, and Britain has never been really confident over its claim to the islands. In 1929, the Duke of Wellington observed: "I have perused the papers respecting the Falkland Islands. It is not clear to me that we have ever possessed the sovereignty of all these islands."
Britain was prepared to do a deal even with Galtieri's military junta in the years before the 1982 invasion of the islands. Documents recently released at the National Archives under the "30-year rule" showed that the British policy, as Lord Carrington, Thatcher's foreign secretary put it, was one of neglect and hoping for the best, he told a private meeting of the committee set up to look into the circumstances leading up to the 1982 invasion:
"If I may be very frank and rather rude, you had to keep the ball in the air with the Argentines. That was the object. We did not have any cards in our hands."
Carrington added: "There were all sorts of reasons why a settlement was to the advantage of everybody. If you cannot afford to defend a place … the only conceivable thing that you can do is to keep negotiations going as long as possible whether or not you think they are going to be successful."
Referring to a lease-back plan suggested by the Foreign Office a year earlier, he said: "As I recollect, the Argentine conversations did not go too badly and to begin with the Falklands Islanders did not react too strongly, but the House of Commons reacted very strongly." The papers reveal that Thatcher herself was prepared to negotiate with Argentina even after the invasion as the British taskforce was heading for the islands.
Argentina questions the right to self-determination for the inhabitants of the islands as demanded by Britain. They should not have that right, Argentina says, but would continue to enjoy all their human, civil, political, and cultural rights, their way of living, as minorities do in other countries around the world.
UN resolutions on the dispute, of which there have been 40, do not refer to self-determination but to the "interests" of the islanders. Attempts by Britain at the UN to include the phrase have proved unsuccessful. The UN says the dispute over sovereignty must be settled through bilateral negotiations, between Argentina and Britain, not with the islanders.
According to recent figures, the majority of inhabitants were not born on the Falklands. For the first time last year, says Argentina, the census did not provide information about people born on the islands. However, the inhabitants were asked what they considered their national identity to be. A majority said "Falklanders". On his visit to London last month, Hector Timerman, the Argentinian foreign minister, said there was no such thing as a "Falklander".
The inhabitants of the islands are British, says Argentina, but the territory is not. It is a matter of territorial integrity. A visitor from Mars would be astonished if anyone argued otherwise. A settlement that enshrined fundamental rights – political, human, social, economic, cultural – protected by law, would bring much healthier and more practical benefits for the inhabitants of the Falklands than a sterile dispute over sovereignty. This is a concept that in any case has been eroded over the years as nations – including Britain – agreed to be bound by the rules and obligations, as well as the benefits, of international military, economic and trading alliances.
So, as the countries of the region, through their Union of South American Nations (Unasur), have already made clear, the coming Falklands referendum is all but meaningless .