Theatrical Trailer — When their shantytowns are threatened with mass eviction, three ‘young lions’ of South Africa’s new generation rise from the shacks and take their government to the highest court in the land, putting the promises of democracy to the test.
DEAR MANDELA was awarded the ‘Best South African Documentary’ prize after its World Premiere at the Durban International Film Festival. See http://www.dearmandela.com for more information
A film review by Louis Proyect, The Unrepentant Marxist
It would be impossible to overstate the importance of “Dear Mandela”, a documentary now showing at the IndieScreen Theater in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn through tomorrow evening. After a decade or more of Hollywood movies like “Invictus” or “In My Country” that can best be described as public relations for the ANC, a fierce documentary directed by Dara Kell, a South African now living in the U.S., and Christopher Nizza, finally catches up with reality–a system of economic apartheid has replaced one based on race.
Just as the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 helped galvanize a movement against racial apartheid, the slaughter of 36 miners in Marikana creates the political context for a new freedom struggle based on class. To understand how South Africa has entered a new terrain of struggle, there is no better introduction than “Dear Mandela”, a film that focuses on the struggle against slum clearance in the name of “development” that took place in the outskirts of Durban. We meet three young activists of Abahlali baseMjondolo (Residents of the Shacks) who are committed to the rights of the poor to live in informal settlements. Despite the promise of President Nelson Mandela that every South African would have the right to a decent home, the new ANC pushed through legislation that would give the government the right to demolish the shacks that the poor were forced to live in. Each day “Red Ants”–work crews in red coveralls–come to the slums and raze their shacks to the ground and each day community members rebuild them. They had learned that ANC promises to build new homes were empty. Continue reading
There’s an important development in the global ivory wars, stemming directly from the great National Geographic article (explored on Dot Earth recently) that focused on the demand created by the market for religious icons carved from elephant tusks. A Catholic priest, whose statements about ways to illicitly ship ivory to the United States were featured in the magazine article, is being investigated by government authorities in the Philippines. Here are the details, as reported by Floyd Whaley out of Manila for The Times:
MANILA — Philippine law enforcement officials said on Wednesday that they were investigating whether a senior priest in the Roman Catholic Church was involved in the smuggling of elephant ivory to feed country’s passion for religious icons.
The investigation was prompted by an article in the October issue of National Geographic magazine that quotes Msgr. Cristóbal Garcia, a senior church official on the central Philippine island of Cebu, as telling an American reporter how to smuggle illegal elephant ivory figurines into the United States. “Wrap it in old, stinky underwear and pour ketchup on it,” he is quoted as saying, to deter inspection. Continue reading
[In a bold new move to bring his case, Wikileaks, and the case of accused whistleblower and political prisoner Bradley Manning, to the United Nations, Julian Assange has delivered this electronic media. While he addresses special appeals to President Obama, which will fall on deaf imperialist ears as usual, his arguments will undoubtedly gain renewed circulation and support among activists and people internationally. -- Frontlines ed.]
Sep 26, 2012 by Russia Today
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addressed permanent representatives to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly at a high-level talk on the legal and ethical legitimacy of diplomatic asylum. Assange’s address, which was made from inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London via live stream to the UN on September 26, was broadcast live and exclusively by Russia Today (RT).
Transcript of Julian Assange’s Address to the UN on Human Rights – given on Wednesday 26th September – Proofed from live speech. Continue reading
| Video | Uproar over political prisoner status to jailed Maoists | India Videos | – India Today. (Click for Indian news video)
[A background note, by Revolutionary Frontlines, on why capitalist governments refuse to grant “political prisoner” status to democratic and revolutionary opponents who have been captured and held by the state:
A court in India has decided that some allegedly Maoist prisoners should be categorized “Political Prisoners.” Other sections of the state apparatus oppose this, loudly. Some even launch legal motions to remove this category from the Maoists. What’s the difference, and why should be care?
Everywhere in the world, wherever governments drape themselves in the pretense of democracy—and this goes for imperialist countries like the US, Britain, France and many others, as well as countries that adopted the “democratic” veneer when they emerged from colonialism and became “independent” but neo-colonial neo-comprador states—they actively promote the lie that democratic rights and freedoms are equally shared, and all can receive justice under the law.
But when a huge section of people—even a majority, or more—are blocked, from generation to generation, from any form of rights or justice, and they develop democratic and revolutionary movements and organizations, all their protests and demands are routinely criminalized, because their existence and practice expose and destroy the legitimacy of the faux-democratic state.
So, getting back to the question: why demand, and struggle for “political prisoner” status when activists are arrested and charged with common crimes—or are held for months or years without charge? Because, for a state to admit it has political prisoners is
- to admit that the state is not democratic, that oppressors and oppressed have no equality before the law;
- an admission that political prisoners have been arrested mainly because of their opposition to the state, and are being denied basic human rights;
- a confession by the state that criminal charges are routinely fabricated to cover up the political repression which is going on;
- and that democratic movements and revolutionary organizations which have been jailed are representing the political interests of the oppressed, and are not criminal organizations.
- and finally, the presence of political prisoners indicates that justice is not a domestic struggle--seeking civil rights from an oppressive state—but is a battle for human rights, to be sought by the masses themselves, using whatever arena is available on an international level.
For these reasons, the Indian state is determined to quash the “political prisoner” status granted by a wayward, indisciplined—and uncommonly principled—Indian judge.
See the following articles from the Indian bourgeois media about the “Political Prisoner” label/debate. – Frontlines ed.]
7 Maoists get political prisoner status
KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court Wednesday granted status of political prisoners to seven Maoist leaders and sympathizers in West Bengal jails, the rebels’ counsel said.
The seven include Venkateshwara Reddy alias Telugu Dipak and Chhatradhar Mahato.
“Justice Kanwaljit Aluwalliah allowed our prayer granting the status of political prisoners. They have been languishing in jails for long and it is yet to be proved that they are Maoists and involved in violent activities,” counsel Subhasish Roy told IANS.
The others to get the status are Communist Party of India-Maoist spokesperson Gaur Chakrabarty, Sukhshanti Baskey, Shambhu Soren, Sagun Murmu and Prasun Chatterjee.
Deepak, a close associate of slain Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji, is said to be the mastermind behind the Silda camp attack in West Midnapore district which left 24 Eastern Frontier Rifles soldiers dead. He was arrested in March 2010.
Tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato was the spokesman of the Maoist backed Peoples Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) and was arrested along with Chatterjee in 2009.
(IANS) Continue reading
The government is due to pass its 2013 austerity budget, which includes further salary freezes for government workers.
|27 Sep 2012|
[Photo: Protesters have gathered for a second day in a row to rally against the austerity measures in the country [Reuters]]
Thousands of protesters rallied near the Spanish parliament for a second straight night on Wednesday after a rough day on the markets again raised the spectre of a full bailout and deeper economic pain.
Shouting “Government resign!” and “We are not afraid”, demonstrators faced off against riot police in the Plaza de Neptuno, the same area of Madrid where officers beat protesters and fired rubber bullets to disperse them on Tuesday night.
“I came yesterday and I’ll come every day to say no to this system,” said Angel Alcaide, a 30-year-old engineer who carried a sign reading “Resign”.
“This government is worse than the last. It protects its privileges, its luxuries, and the people just get cuts in health and education,” said 26-year-old Carmen Lopez, who lives in London, pushed abroad, she said, by the lack of jobs for young people.
But mass protests seemed the least of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s problems as the prospect of an international rescue revived.
Spain’s borrowing costs crept back up to danger levels and the stock market plunged on Wednesday, as pressure from Catalonia, which called snap elections in a drive for greater independence, added to the gloom.
Unresolved OPD Shooting of Black Teenager Alan Blueford Illustrates Oakland’s Continuing Crisis of Governance
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
After seeking justice from the City of Oakland for months, the family of Alan Blueford finally caught the attention of city leaders on September 18 when their protest brought the City Council to a halt.
Alan, an African-American high school student, was murdered on May 6 by Officer Miguel Masso, who drove up on the young man who had committed no crime, chased him for five blocks and shot him dead outside a Cinco de Mayo party. Masso initially claimed that Alan shot him, a story spread by the local media, although when it was revealed that Masso actually shot himself this lie turned into the claim that Alan pointed a gun at the officer. The Bluefords refute even this claim, considering Masso’s earlier lie.
Since May, the Bluefords have demanded that Masso be fired and prosecuted and that stop-and-frisk and racial profiling practices be ended among Oakland police. The elected leadership of Oakland have largely ignored these requests outside of a handful of closed door meetings where the Bluefords were promised a timely investigation and no slandering of Alan in the press. Neither promise was kept.
The Bluefords arrived at the September 18 City Council meeting with over 100 supporters to speak during open comments, recounting not only their heartbreak but also the endless unkept promises from the city and OPD. “I just want to know what happened to my son,” Adam Blueford, Alan’s father, both begged and demanded of the Council.
The Councilmembers, typically masters of evasion who are usually absorbed in their cell phones and magazines during public comments, suddenly all sat upright at full attention. Once it was clear the Bluefords were not going to walk away quietly without answers, City Administrator Deanna Santana went scurrying to find something to offer the Bluefords. Finally, it was announced that OPD Chief Howard Jordan was on his way to City Hall with the police report in hand – after refusing to release it for months.
This promise also evaporated within the hour after the Bluefords refused yet another closed-door meeting with Jordan, insisting he address the public in order to be held accountable. With no sign of either Jordan or the report, the Council attempted to resume with its first order of business – passing a resolution declaring Oakland an International City of Peace. This absurd resolution, from a city internationally known for the murder of Oscar Grant and the repression of Occupy Oakland, led to chants of “No Justice No Peace” and “Howard is a coward!” from both the Bluefords and the audience, many of whom were beaten and tear-gassed during those two movements. Continue reading