Slave ships and supermarkets: Modern day slavery in Thailand

[Representatives of capital, and of modern capitalist-imperialism, have often claimed that their exploitative system has been a civilizing force, promoting and spreading democratic rights along with social and economic development wherever it has gone throughout the world.  These claims could not be further from the truth, as these masters of global plunder of human and all natural resources continue to force marginalized and desperately migrating peoples--peasants and proletarians alike--into the most dangerous conditions of slavery, enforced by the repressive regimes and the enslaving corporations they serve.  The following exposure by The Guardian exposes one aspect of this malevolent and highly profitable system, which then offers the inexpensive and tasty shrimp/prawn delicacies to unaware and/or uncaring consumers in imperialist countries. -- Frontlines ed.]

By Kate Hodal, Chris Kelly, Felicity Lawrence, www.theguardian.com

June 12th, 2014

Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers, the Guardian can reveal.

A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

The investigation found that the world’s largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves.

Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them. Continue reading

100,000 Protest Erdogan Visiting Germany

“Soma was not an accident. It was murder!”

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Source:  revolution-news

Western Moves to Isolate Russia Spurs China-Russia Energy Deal

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, and President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday in Shanghai, where they signed a deal to send gas through a pipeline from Siberia to China. Credit Pool photo by Mark Ralston

BEIJING — China and Russia agreed to a major 30-year natural gas deal on Wednesday that would send gas from Siberia by pipeline to China, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation.

The announcement caps a decade-long negotiation and helps bring Russia and China closer than they have been in many years. The contract was driven to a conclusion by the presence of President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Shanghai for the last two days. Continue reading

Should anti-Imperialists oppose only US imperialism?

[The world imperialist system today has entered a period of crisis, internal instability and disarray, growing internal conflict and inter-imperialist contention, conflict, and the beginnings of opposing bloc formations. It is a far-from-healthy and broadly discredited system, forcing the costs of its desperate wars and troubled (and false) bourgeois “recoveries” on the masses of people worldwide. Wave upon wave of resistance and rebellion has begun, sometimes toppling old imperialist puppets, though finding the path to create liberated societies very difficult. Fantasies that the US had, since WW2, successfully formed a system of efficient and unchallengable control of world imperialist domination, have fallen on hard times. Imperialist Russia and imperialist China have grown from the defeat of socialism and the seizure of power by capitalists, and have set upon an assertion of power and authority in regional, economic, political, military, monetary and financial affairs (though each is struggling to contain growing internal discontent). Anti-imperialists and revolutionaries who only think in the framework of decades-long opposition to US hegemony in the world system will look in vain, and to their own discredit, for friends or allies among the contending imperialists. The only path forward is to build revolutionary proletarian class-conscious parties and mass-based political forces with eyes wide open, independent of ties and influence by any and all imperialists.
Revolutionary Frontlines has recently received a new study from redpath.net, which examines the shape of the imperialist system today, with special emphasis on the still-debated role of China and Chinese imperialism. The introduction to this path-breaking study and analysis is posted here below. The entire document can be viewed at the website of http://www.red-path.net, where the document (produced by an independent research and writing group) was first posted. It can also be viewed and downloaded at http://www.mlmrsg.com/79-statements/82-is-china-an-imperialist-country-considerations-and-evidence. -- Revolutionary Frontlines]

IS CHINA AN IMPERIALIST COUNTRY?  by NB Turner, et al.

It has long been known and understood that the entire world has been under the control of capitalist-imperialism. For a time, a section of this world broke from it, beginning with the victory of socialism in Russia and continuing through the Chinese Revolution, constituting a socialist world. Yet, in time, the socialist countries, through internal class struggles in politics and economics, were seized by capitalist conciliators and advocates, and then by capitalists themselves, who were largely within the ruling communist parties themselves. First in Russia, and later in China, when these counter-revolutions and coups took place, there ensued a period of entry and integration into the world imperialist system. The Soviet Union, at first under the existing signboard of socialism, continued much of its established national and economic power relations into a new social-imperialist bloc (socialist in name, imperialist in reality). The Russian capitalist-imperialist attempt to maintain this bloc, or important sections of what had been part of this bloc, and its historic allies, has continued in the years since the “socialist” signboard was discarded. In China, the defeat of the proletariat and the capitalist capture of state power, after the death of the great revolutionary Mao Zedong, have also led to a period of integration into the world imperialist system. China still operates under a “socialist” signboard, but has conducted itself unambiguously as a capitalist power.
Before the last decade, especially since the demise of the “socialist bloc,” the US was commonly seen as the sole Superpower, to which all other powers had to defer. The system which the US had designed, at the end of WW2, was global in scope, and to some more “democratic” in appearance than the old colonial empires. But it was built around the elitist privilege of power and authority, meaning the US as Superpower was at the centerpiece of the controls.
But in the last decade the imperialist world system is not what it used to be. Throughout the world, corrupt and comprador regimes have faced significant and often unprecedented mass popular opposition movements which have revealed the deep instability of the old neo-colonial arrangements. Continue reading

Reparations for Slavery: A Just Demand, Constantly Blocked by Bourgeois Legal System

[In the systems whose wealth and power is rooted in historic plunder, enslavement, displacement and extermination, the demand for reparations ("to repair the damage") is routinely dismissed and denounced by bourgeois media and law -- as "unreasonable" or "unrealistic," at best, or, more commonly, as "irrational" or "greedy" or even "treasonous." -- Frontlines ed.]

For the sins of the fathers:  Caribbean countries sue for slavery, but what could it mean for SA?

Rebecca Davis, World (South African publication)22 Oct 2013
Rebeccaslavery

Fourteen Caribbean nations are to sue European governments for reparations for slavery. The Caribbean Community (Caricom) is bringing lawsuits to the International Court of Justice in the Hague against Britain, France and the Netherlands for their roles in the Atlantic slave trade. They argue that the social and economic legacy of slavery continues to disadvantage them to this day. It’s an interesting case, and it might prompt some reflection about South Africa’s own reparations issues. By REBECCA DAVIS.

Regional Caribbean organisation Caricom, through its British law firm Leigh Day, will seek to make the case in the Hague that through their colonial participation in the slave-trade, Britain, France and the Netherlands essentially contributed towards the stunting of Caribbean development, and now owe 14 Caribbean nations reparations for slavery and an apology.

Exactly how much money they want, and how they think it should be disbursed, is not yet clear. The figure mentioned by several media outlets has been that Britain paid 20 million pounds in compensation to slave-owners in the Caribbean almost two decades after the abolition of slavery in 1834. (The slaves got nothing.) This figure was massive even at the time, amounting to 40% of the erstwhile government’s budget, and would now be equivalent to about 200 billion pounds. Continue reading

Paris sees second day of mass student protests over immigrant deportations

Published time: October 18, 2013, RT

Thousands of French teenagers protested for the second day over the public deportation of an Albanian-Kosovar girl and an Armenian student. The issue caused disruption in 50 schools across France.

Teenagers clashed with police, who used tear gas against the high-school students.

Students climbed bus stops and shouted demands for the interior minister Manuel Valls to leave office. According to France 24, one school became a scene of green garbage cans piled on top of each other, while above hung a banner with the words ‘Education in danger.’

The catalyst for the event was the expulsion of a 15-year-old Romani girl, a native of Kosovo. Leonarda Dibrani was forcefully taken off a school bus in front of her classmates while the group was on a trip earlier this month. The incident took place in the eastern town of Levier.    Continue reading

Down with imperialist aggression against Syria! USA, hands off Syria!

[The following is a recent statement from revolutionary Maoists in Brazil, detailing their analysis of the ever-growing civil war in Syria as a proxy war by contending imperialist powers for control of the Middle East.  It is an important contribution to the international debate among revolutionaries, over the shifting relations and aggressions, direct and indirect, by leading powers in the world imperialist system. -- Frontlines ed.]

Proletarians and oppressed people of the world, unite!

Declaration of the Revolutionary Front for the Defence of the People’s Rights – Brazil

About the recent situation in Syria

In the last months, the imperialist Yankee has intensified its manipulations and provocations to justify its military invasion in Syria. The US propaganda machine is once again creating smokescreens to justify to the world public yet another predatory war. “To defend democracy,” “human rights”, stop use of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction;” these are the new smokescreens of the Yankee imperialism in its counter-revolutionary offensive, reviving the “War on Terror”. These were also the same pretexts used to justify the aggression towards Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Libya, and many other countries. by the very forces  who are the most responsible for countless massacres and use of weapons of mass destruction in human history; imperialism, mainly Yankee.

Since 2011, the people in Syria are subjected to imperialist predatory war that currently is conducted in the form of a civil war. The armed forces of Assad’s regime (sustained politically, economically, and militarily by Russian imperialism) and the self-proclaimed ‘Free Syrian Army’ (mercenary forces directly controlled by the USA through their intelligence services and regional allies) are the contenders of this inter-imperialist dispute on the Syrian territory. In this war all kinds of horrors against the masses have been practised, without this having motivated attention or outcry from the well know”international institutions”. Continue reading

Washington’s Imperial partners take offense at US’ Hegemonic ‘Spy on Subordinates’ NSA program

[Yet another example of the US' arrogance of empire, this time among fellow imperialists.  Who can doubt that the world political crisis is opening new cracks of suspicion and resentment against the has-been Godfather, among his partners in crime?  --  Frontlines ed.]

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Berlin accuses Washington of cold war tactics over snooping

Reports of NSA snooping on Europe go well beyond previous revelations of electronic spying

Ian Traynor, The Guardian, in Brussels, 30 June 2013

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger: 'If the media reports are true, it is reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war'. Photograph: Ole Spata/Corbis

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger: ‘If the media reports are true, it is reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war’. Photograph: Ole Spata/Corbis

Transatlantic relations plunged at the weekend as Berlin, Brussels and Paris all demanded that Washington account promptly and fully for new disclosures on the scale of the US National Security Agency’s spying on its European allies.

As further details emerged of the huge reach of US electronic snooping on Europe, Berlin accused Washington of treating it like the Soviet Union, “like a cold war enemy”.

The European commission called on the US to clarify allegations that the http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/nsa” target=”_blank”>NSA, operating from Nato headquarters a few miles away in Brussels, had infiltrated secure telephone and computer networks at the venue for EU summits in the Belgian capital. The fresh revelations in the Guardian and allegations in the German publication Der Spiegel triggered outrage in http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/germany” target=”_blank”>Germany and in the European parliament and threatened to overshadow negotiations on an ambitious transatlantic free-trade pact worth hundreds of billions due to open next week.

The reports of NSA snooping on Europe – and on Germany in particular – went well beyond previous revelations of electronic spying said to be focused on identifying suspected terrorists, extremists and organised criminals.

Der Spiegel reported that it had seen documents and slides from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicating that US agencies bugged the offices of the EU in Washington and at the UN in New York. They are also accused of directing an operation from Nato headquarters in Brussels to infiltrate the telephone and email networks at the EU’s Justus Lipsius building in the Belgian capital, the venue for EU summits and home of the European council.

Citing documents it said it had “partly seen”, the magazine reported that more than five years ago security officers at the EU had noticed several missed calls apparently targeting the remote maintenance system in the building that were traced to NSA offices within the Nato compound in Brussels. Continue reading

The Caribbean case for Reparations from Britain

Reparations: a case for settlement

A Rastafarian man holds up a cardboard placard calling for reparations during a demonstration as Britain's Prince Harry visited the non-governmental organisation RISE in Kingston on March 6, 2012. - AP
[A Rastafarian man holds up a cardboard placard calling for reparations during a demonstration as Britain's Prince Harry visited the non-governmental organisation RISE in Kingston on March 6, 2012. - AP]

Courtenay Barnett, Guest Columnist, The Gleaner (Jamaica, West Indies), Sunday, June 30, 2013

This month, Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) was required to pay 19.9 million pounds in compensation to some 5,000 elderly Kenyans who were tortured and abused during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s. This case bears lessons for the Caribbean and it also has much to teach about the true nature of the British Empire.

The British imposed themselves in Kenya and confiscated land. In 1948, a quarter-million Kenyans were confined to 2,000 square miles, while 30,000 English settlers lived on 12,000 square miles of the most fertile lands in Kenya. Africans under an apartheid and colonial policy were forbidden to enter certain areas and confined away from the most arable land.

Not surprisingly, the Kenyans rebelled and started a violent campaign against the white settlers in 1952. The colonialists responded, and the Kenya Human Rights Commission estimated that 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed. There was the use of literal concentration camps as a nationwide network of detention for some 160,000 who were detained in the most appalling conditions.

TORTURED

President Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, happened to be one of those detained persons. He had pins placed into his fingernails and in his buttocks and his testicles were squeezed between metal rods. Other Kenyans were forcibly relocated in new villages. Within the camps, the British inflicted beatings, castrated, raped and performed other forms of sexual abuse and torture applying brutal interrogation techniques against the Kenyans.

It was against this background that elderly Kenyans who had suffered abuse when detained filed a claim in the English High Court. Two of the original five claimants had been castrated and an African lady who had been raped was included in the claim. Continue reading

Thousands of anti-Putin protesters march in Moscow

Russian opposition protesters some holding portraits of political prisoners shout anti-Putin slogans as they march through a street next to the Kremlin in Moscow on Wednesday, June 12, 2013.Thousands of Russian opposition activists are marching through Moscow decrying President Vladimir Putin's authoritarian rule and calling for the release of people they consider political prisoners. Wednesday's march is in support of 27 people who face charges related to a protest that turned violent on the eve of Putin's inauguration more than a year ago. The banner reads liberty to the captives on May 6! for our and your freedom! ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO — AP Photo

Russian opposition protesters some holding portraits of political prisoners shout anti-Putin slogans as they march through a street next to the Kremlin in Moscow on Wednesday, June 12, 2013.Thousands of Russian opposition activists are marching through Moscow decrying President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule and calling for the release of people they consider political prisoners. Wednesday’s march is in support of 27 people who face charges related to a protest that turned violent on the eve of Putin’s inauguration more than a year ago. The banner reads liberty to the captives on May 6! for our and your freedom!
ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO — AP Photo

Published: June 12, 2013

— Thousands of Russian opposition activists marched through Moscow on Wednesday, decrying President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule and calling for the release of people they consider political prisoners.

The march on Russia Day, a national holiday, was to show support for 27 people arrested after a protest turned violent on the eve of Putin’s inauguration more than a year ago. Sixteen of the defendants have remained in jail pending trial on charges that could send them to prison for up to 10 years.

The arrests, especially those of ordinary Russians who had joined the anti-Putin rallies for the first time and who in some cases seemed to have been grabbed at random, appeared to have been part of Kremlin efforts to deter people from joining any future protests. Continue reading

Britain’s “regrets” for colonial torture in Kenya and the reparations debate in Caribbean

Editorial, Jamaica Observer, Friday, June 07, 2013

England’s expression yesterday of sincere regret and offer of compensation for the acts of torture that a British colonial government carried out against Kenyans fighting for liberation from colonial rule in the 1950s and 1960s, will, we expect, revive the reparations debate in the Caribbean.

As reported on page 29 of today’s Jamaica Observer, the simultaneous announcement in Nairobi and London sparked celebration in the Kenyan capital. Elderly Kenyans clapped and sang joyful songs of struggle during a near two-hour press conference attended by Mr Christian Turner, the British high commissioner to Kenya.

In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons that his Government accepted that Kenyans were subjected to torture and other ill treatment.

However, what we found most significant was that Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office insisted that an “expression of deep regret” was not the same thing as an apology.

Wire service reports tell us that the compensation will see approximately US$21.5 million being paid to the 5,200 Kenyans who were found to have been tortured, or about US$4,100 per Kenyan victim. Another US$9.25 million will be used to pay costs to the Kenyans’ legal team.

Quite frankly, the payouts are low, and the British Government, we are told, has made it clear that it “doesn’t accept liability for the actions of previous colonial governments”. Continue reading

Data Surveillance with Global Implications

By Marcel Rosenbach, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock, Der Spiegel, June 10 2013

The American intelligence director and the White House have finally confirmed what insiders have long known: The Obama administration is spying on the entire world. Politicians in Germany are demanding answers.

South of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the National Security Agency (NSA), a United States foreign intelligence service, keeps watch over one of its most expensive secrets. Here, on 100,000 square meters (1,100,000 square feet) near the US military’s Camp Williams, the NSA is constructing enormous buildings to house superfast computers. All together, the project will cost around $2 billion (€1.5 billion) and the computers will be capable of storing a gigantic volume of data, at least 5 billion gigabytes. The energy needed to power the cooling system for the servers alone will cost $40 million a year.

Former NSA employees Thomas Drake and Bill Binney told SPIEGEL in March that the facility would soon store personal data on people from all over the world and keep it for decades. This includes emails, Skype conversations, Google searches, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, bank transfers — electronic data of every kind.

“They have everything about you in Utah,” Drake says. “Who decides whether they look at that data? Who decides what they do with it?” Binney, a mathematician who was previously an influential analyst at the NSA, calculates that the servers are large enough to store the entirety of humanity’s electronic communications for the next 100 years — and that, of course, gives his former colleagues plenty of opportunity to read along and listen in.

James Clapper, the country’s director of national intelligence, has confirmed the existence of a large-scale surveillance program. President Barack Obama further explained that Congress authorized the program — but that American citizens are exempt from it.

A top-secret document published last week by the Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian shows where the NSA may be getting the majority of its data. According to the document, which was allegedly leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden, the intelligence agency began seeking out direct access to servers belonging to American Internet companies on a wide scale in 2007. The first of these companies to come onboard was Microsoft. Yahoo followed half a year later, then Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype and AOL. The most recent company to declare its willingness to cooperate was Apple, in October 2012, according to the secret government document, which proudly states that this access to data is achieved “directly from the servers” of the companies. Continue reading

Greek opponents of Eldorado mine take message to company’s Canadian HQ: ‘Leave us alone’

Anti-gold mining protest — Halkidiki, March 25, 2013

More than 3.000 people chanting slogans against Eldorado Gold marched three kilometres from the village of Megali Panagia to the location where the first clash of anti-mining protestors with the riot police took place one year ago. This was the last in a series of powerful demonstrations against gold mining that took place in the last couple of weeks in Alexandroupoli, Komotini and Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, where an unprecedented 20.000 people chanted “Eldorado Gold go away now!”.

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Greek activists outside Eldorado's Vancouver headquarters May 31. [Photo: Greek activists outside Eldorado's Vancouver headquarters May 31 / David P. Ball.]

Greek villagers brought their region’s fierce battle against Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold to the firm’s headquarters Friday, marking the end of the activists’ cross-Canada tour opposing open-pit gold mining in their homeland.

Over the past year, a growing conflict in Greece’s Halkidiki region — birthplace of the philosopher Aristotle –has seen thousands of residents blockade roads, raid mine sites, and skirmish with police they say are corrupt and beholden to the company. Another demonstration brought 20,000 protesters to the streets of Thessaloniki.

“Our will will not be curbed,” said Maria Kadoglou, a resident of Ierissos village, Greece. “We will keep on fighting until Eldorado Gold goes away.” Continue reading

Greek pensioners march through Athens in protest over Pension Cuts


ITN

April 19, 2013 — Thousands of pensioners from across Greece flood the capital to demonstrate over cuts to their pensions.

A sea of old age pensioners from across Greece flooded into Athens on Friday (April 19) to protest against pension cuts.  Aristides Manikas, protester, said “I have grandchildren, I have great-grandchildren, and I don’t have enough money to buy them candy. It’s embarrassing. I stopped going to the coffee shop. I used to have a glass of wine, I stopped that too. There have been many dictatorships in the past, but none like this one. What’s going to happen to our children.”

Some aided by walking canes and led by a demonstrator on a motorized cart, the elderly marched through the city past the Greek parliament to the Public Administration Ministry, where they were stopped short by police.

The protesters came from cities across the country, saying they have been reduced to poverty by the pension reductions, which are as much as 15 percent.

They have also been hit by new taxes on their homes as part of the reforms, as well as cash for drugs, after the free state social insurance fund suffered medicine shortages. Continue reading

Greece: Farmer shoots 30 unpaid Bangladeshi migrant workers when they demand pay

Greece farm shooting: 30 injured in pay dispute
BBC, 18 April 2013

Migrants are employed to pick strawberries in Nea Manolada

Migrants are employed to pick strawberries in Nea Manolada, a Peloponnesian village in souther Greece.

 

About 30 migrant workers have been injured in a shooting on a strawberry farm in Greece after requesting salaries that had not been paid.

The migrants – mainly from Bangladesh – were shot at by at least one farm supervisor, in a Peloponnesian village in southern Greece.

Several of the workers have been taken to hospital but none are in a critical condition.

The owner of the farm in Nea Manolada and one foreman have been arrested.

Nea Manolada, about 260km (160 miles) west of Athens, is an area where thousands of migrant workers are employed.

Around 200 workers had gathered to request their unpaid salaries when at least one farm supervisor opened fire, reports the BBC’s Mark Lowen.

Police Captain Haralambos Sfetsos told the AP news agency that the workers had “moved threateningly” towards foremen when the shots were taken.

In addition to the two men already arrested, warrants for two further arrests have been issued.

‘Blood strawberries’

Nea Manolada has previously been in the spotlight over exploitation of migrants.

In 2008 workers staged a strike against inhumane conditions. There have also been reports of previous attacks.

A social media campaign has now been launched to boycott the fruit from Nea Manolada, calling them “blood strawberries”.

The Council of Europe – the main European human rights watchdog – issued a report this week detailing abuse against migrants in Greece.

The report warned of a growing wave of racist violence, stating that “democracy is at risk”. It highlighted the role of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.