UK: Mass Actions to End Caste Discrimination in the UK

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Campaigners urge government to tackle caste discrimination in UK

Politicians and human rights groups say people from traditionally lower status Asian backgrounds need legal protection

guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 November 2012
A coalition of community groups, human rights organisations and politicians has renewed its call for the government to tackle caste discrimination in the UK by introducing legal protection for those from traditionally lower status Asian backgrounds.

Although a section of the Equality Act 2010 could offer lower-caste Asians a legal safeguard against discrimination, it has not been activated despite repeated demands from campaigners.

Supporters of the legislation say the law is needed to prevent discrimination at work, in the classroom and in the health service. Continue reading

Margaret Thatcher’s death greeted with street parties in Brixton and Glasgow

Crowds shout ‘Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead’ during impromptu events

guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 April 2013

thatcherSeveral hundred people gathered in south London on Monday evening to celebrate Margaret Thatcher‘s death with cans of beer, pints of milk and an impromptu street disco playing the soundtrack to her years in power.

Young and old descended on Brixton, a suburb which weathered two outbreaks of rioting during the Thatcher years. Many expressed jubilation that the leader they loved to hate was no more; others spoke of frustration that her legacy lived on.

To cheers of “Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead,” posters of Thatcher were held aloft as reggae basslines pounded.

Clive Barger, a 62-year-old adult education tutor, said he had turned out to mark the passing of “one of the vilest abominations of social and economic history”.

witchHe said: “It is a moment to remember. She embodied everything that was so elitist in terms of repressing people who had nothing. She presided over a class war.” Continue reading

Britain’s colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition

David Cameron’s ancestors were among the wealthy families who received generous reparation payments that would be worth millions of pounds in today’s money

Sanchez Manning, The Independent

Sunday 24 February 2013

The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.

The previously unseen records show exactly who received what in payouts from the Government when slave ownership was abolished by Britain – much to the potential embarrassment of their descendants. Dr Nick Draper from University College London, who has studied the compensation papers, says as many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy.

As a result, there are now wealthy families all around the UK still indirectly enjoying the proceeds of slavery where it has been passed on to them. Dr Draper said: “There was a feeding frenzy around the compensation.” A John Austin, for instance, owned 415 slaves, and got compensation of £20,511, a sum worth nearly £17m today. And there were many who received far more.

Academics from UCL, led by Dr Draper, spent three years drawing together 46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners into an internet database to be launched for public use on Wednesday. But he emphasised that the claims set to be unveiled were not just from rich families but included many “very ordinary men and women” and covered the entire spectrum of society.

Dr Draper added that the database’s findings may have implications for the “reparations debate”. Barbados is currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families. Continue reading

London: A Call to Boycott India’s 63rd Republic Day and stand against sexual assaults on women

 DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE INDIA HOUSE IN LONDON, Aldwych, WC2B 4NA.

11am to 1pm 26th January 2013

As India prepares to celebrate its 63rd Republic Day on 26 January 2013, Delhi is trying to come to terms with the recent gang rape of a young woman on a moving bus and her subsequent death. Such rapes have become rampant in the Indian cities and towns. Few months ago London Guardian commented India to be the worst country for women among the G20 nations. Indian rape laws are stringent enough; however, the executive and the judiciary are so much feudal and patriarchal that the conviction rate for rape cases in India between 2001 and 2010 was 26%. In the case of Muslim and Dalit women the rate of conviction is lmost nil as evident from the gang rape case of Bhanwari Devi in Rajasthan.

However a bigger dimension to this is that the Indian state itself has proved time and again to be the biggest perpetuator of rapes and all forms of assaults on women. State violence is institutionalised through a culture of institutional impunity to the police, the paramilitary and the army. In June 1984, hundreds of Sikh women were gang raped in the sanctity of golden temple by the Indian Army during ‘Operation Blue Star’. In the village of Kuman-Poshpura in Kashmir valley, about 100 women were mass raped by the Indian Army in a single night of 23rd Feb 1991. Hundreds of Muslim women were gang raped by security forces during the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, as the Chief Minister Narendra Modi just watched. The brutal gang rape and execution of 32 year old Thangjam Manorama in Manipur in July 2004 is another example of Indian Army’s ongoing repression on women in the North-East. Continue reading

Hunger Strike: The Irish Experience

by DENIS O’HEARN

When people ask me, “what is the most important thing you learned about Bobby Sands?” I tell them one simple thing. The most important thing about Bobby Sands is not how he died on hunger strike, it is how he lived.

New York – Bıa news agency, 5 November 2012

The hunger strikes of 1980/1981, in which ten men including Bobby Sands died, are the most famous use of that political weapon. Yet hunger striking has a long history in Irish political culture. It is said that the ancient Celts practiced a form of hunger strike called Troscadh or Cealachan, where someone who had been wronged by a man of wealth fasted on his doorstep. Some historians claim that this was a death fast, which usually achieved justice because of the shame one would incur from allowing someone to die on their doorstep. Others say it was a token act that was never carried out to the death – it was simply meant to publicly shame the offender. In any case, both forms of protest have been used quite regularly as a political weapon in modern Ireland.

The history of Irish resistance to British colonialism is full of heroes who died on hunger strike. Some of the best-known include Thomas Ashe, a veteran of the 1916 “Easter Rising”, who died after he was force-fed by the British in Dublin’s Mountjoy Jail. In 1920, three men including the mayor of Cork City Terence MacSwiney died on hunger strike in England’s Brixton Prison. In October 1923 two men died when up to 8,000 IRA prisoners went on hunger strike to protest their imprisonment by the new “Irish Free State” (formed after the partition of Ireland in 1921). Three men died on hunger strike against the Irish government in the 1940s. After the IRA was reformed in the 1970s, hunger strikes became common once again. IRA man Michael Gaughan died after being force-fed in a British prison in 1974. And Frank Stagg died in a British jail after a 62-day hunger strike in 1976.

Unlike in Turkey, the Irish make no distinction between a “hunger strike” and a “death fast,” although many hunger strikes have started without the intention of anyone dying. In 1972, IRA prisoners successfully won status as political prisoners after a hunger strike in which no one died. They were then moved to Long Kesh prison camp, where they lived in dormitory-style huts and self-organized their education (including guerrilla training), work (including cooperative handicrafts production), recreation, and attempts to escape and rejoin the conflict. The prisoners used their relative freedom to raise their collective and individual consciousness about their struggle against British occupation of Ireland. They read international revolutionaries like Che Guevara and Irish socialists such as James Connolly. This was, in turn, a foundation for rebuilding the IRA on a basis that included a less hierarchical and more participative structure, with a higher emphasis on community politics as a part of armed struggle.

As the IRA rebuilt their organization in prison the British government also changed strategy. The main pillar of the new strategy was a “conveyor belt” of security operations that included widespread arrests of young Catholic males, heavy interrogation including torture, and juryless courts in which a single judge pronounced guilt often on the sole basis of verbal or written statements under interrogation. Continue reading

UK: The Campaign to Boycott the Companies that Support Apartheid Israel

The companies that are being boycotted are listed and detailed at http://www.inminds.com/boycott-brands.html

The UK campaign distributes these “Boycott Cards” to remind supporters of Palestine and opponents of Apartheid Israel:

February 23: International protests at the arraignment of Bradley Manning

Previous rally at US Embassy, 17 Dec 2011

23 Feb: Vigil at US Embassy, London as Bradley Manning is Arraigned in US

WISE Up for Bradley Manning | 20.02.2012

Thursday 23 February, 5pm – 6pm:  Stand in solidarity with Bradley Manning in London as he is arraigned for Court Martial in the US. The Vigil will take place at the hour the arraignment is starting at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Meet in front of the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square. Nearest tube: Bond Street
Solidarity Vigil presently sponsored by London Catholic Worker, Veterans for Peace UK, WISE Up for Bradley Manning

Short YouTube video of a previous vigil outside the US Embassy by British Veterans in solidarity with Bradley Manning here

The Court Martial of Bradley Manning is expected to begin in early May.

Meanwhile, the US National Lawyers Guild has called for all charges against Bradley Manning to be dismissed.

WISE Up for Bradley Manning
- e-mail: wiseupforbm[at]yahoo.com
- Homepage: http://wiseupforbradleymanning.wordpress.com

Thousands protest education cuts in London

Student tuition fees protest passes off peacefully

Student protests over university tuition fees and public sector cutsFew incidents reported as police appear to outnumber students and activists marching in protest against fee increases

Students protest over university tuition fees and public sector cuts. Photograph: Ray Tang / Rex Features

Thousands of students marched through central London on Wednesday to protest against fee increases and were met by large numbers of police but as darkness fell the demonstration appeared to be passing off peacefully.

As the protestors made their way through the City there were sporadic incidents involving bottles being thrown. Continue reading

London Police spies stalked targeted communities, opposition movements

[Such police practices as described below are the domestic equivalent of imperialist wars--destroying people's rights while claiming to save people's rights.  Yet, activists are not helpless when police infiltrate, worm into, and stalk the people's movements.  Over the years, organizers have learned to put such "volunteers" to work, and to keep unknown newbies and those who cannot be vetted away from access to the critical centers of information and decision-making, so that the precious work of activists can be kept in reliable hands.  And when infiltrators are  exposed, to use the exposures to educate about safeguarding the movement, and to publicly discredit the illegitimate police authorities. -- Frontlines ed.]

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The Guardian (UK): “Progressive academic Bob Lambert is former police spy”

Lambert, an expert on Islamophobia, posed as environmental activist then ran police spy unit that infiltrated anti-racist groups

Bob Lambert, right, posed as an activist with the environmental group Greenpeace London while working undercover as a police officer.

An academic and prominent supporter of progressive causes has been unmasked as a former spy who controlled a network of undercover police officers in political groups.

During his current career as an academic expert on Islamophobia, Bob Lambert has regularly spoken at political rallies to promote campaigns against racism and fascism.

However, in his previous career as a special branch officer, which lasted 26 years, he ran operations at a covert unit that placed police spies into political campaigns, including those run by anti-racism groups. The unit also disrupted the activities of these groups.

Lambert became head of the unit after going undercover himself.

Since becoming an academic three years ago, he has made no secret of the fact he was a special branch detective between 1980 and 2006, working on what he describes as “countering threats of terrorism and political violence in Britain”.

However, he has kept quiet about his undercover work.

Lambert, who was involved in the secret unit for around 10 years, becomes the seventh police officer to be exposed as a police spy in the protest movement. Continue reading

Naked class warfare in the wake of the UK revolt

[An important debate is taking place among activists in the UK and internationally about the nature of the "rebellion" or "riot" in London last month.  But there is no dispute over the scale of government/police repression which is being carried out against thousands of youth--detailed in this article from A World to Win News Service.-- Frontlines ed.]

By Geoffrey Scott, London

Following the four days of rebellion that shook Great Britain last week in the wake of the police killing of a young Black man, Mark Duggan, the British state has unleashed a wave of repression whose severity has not been seen here in many years.

Almost 2,000 people have been arrested, and the police have announced that they hope to grab up as many as a thousand more from surveying CCTV footage. Most of the charges are the kind that would not result in detention, and still less in jail terms, in ordinary times. But the Magistrate’s courts have been working 24 hours a day after the upheaval and handing out three and four-month terms and worse in the name of restoring “law and order”. About half of those arrested have been sent over to the Crown courts, which alone have the authority to issue sentences of more than six months.

So far 138 youth under age 18 (legally children in England) have been sent to prison. The anonymity usually granted juveniles has been lifted by special order. The average age of those convicted in London is 19, and only one-third are being granted bail, instead of the usual 90 percent in Magistrate’s court. Jails and longer-term prisons are full to bursting, with 723 new inmates in the week before 19 August alone. Continue reading

LONDON AFIRE, by Mumia Abu-Jamal

10 August 2011
After decades of political betrayal by the Labour Party, and the blatant attacks on the working class by the Tories (the
British Conservative Party), there has emerged an angry and bitter class that has rocked what was once the center of a
global empire: London.

Fires have erupted In Birmingham, Croydon, Bristol, Liverpool and Tottenham at last count, sparked by the very same
fuse that lit the explosions of the 1960s, and 1990s: police violence-this time against a 29-year old father of four, Mark
Duggan.

But while this cop violence may prove a spark, that doesn’t mean it was the reason. Years of cutbacks, joblessness,
slashed educational opportunities and plain old political mean-spiritedness aimed at the poor and the dispossessed,
immigrants and the like, left sour tastes in the minds of many. Especially in the midst of a city that became the financial
center of Europe, who were living a life of excess and plenty. Continue reading

Guardian, UK: “There is a context to London’s riots that can’t be ignored”

Those condemning the events in north London and elsewhere would do well to take a step back and consider the bigger picture

by Nina Power, guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 August 2011

Police in riot gear in Enfield, north London, on Sunday night

(Police in riot gear in Enfield, north London, on Sunday night. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

Since the coalition came to power just over a year ago, the country has seen multiple student protests, occupations of dozens of universities, several strikes, a half-a-million-strong trade union march and now unrest on the streets of the capital (preceded by clashes with Bristol police in Stokes Croft earlier in the year). Each of these events was sparked by a different cause, yet all take place against a backdrop of brutal cuts and enforced austerity measures. The government knows very well that it is taking a gamble, and that its policies run the risk of sparking mass unrest on a scale we haven’t seen since the early 1980s. With people taking to the streets of Tottenham, Edmonton, Brixton and elsewhere over the past few nights, we could be about to see the government enter a sustained and serious losing streak. Continue reading

New York Times: “Rioting Widens in London on 3rd Night of Unrest”

[The New York Times, the leading imperialist media organizer, reports the events in London and the crisis in Britain in terms which express contempt for the masses in rebellion, and calculations of where this is all going--in terms of the sharpening of battlefronts for the class war which is leaping out of the shadows of "normal" life.   All this from the viewpoint of the defenders, and managers, of the existing system. --Frontlines ed.]

By RAVI SOMAIYA and JOHN F. BURNS

August 8, 2011

Sang Tan/Associated Press A shop was set on fire Monday in Croydon, south London. The home secretary said there had been hundreds of arrests.

LONDON — The rioting and looting that convulsed poorer sections of London over the weekend spread Monday to at least eight new districts in the metropolitan area and broke out for the first time in Britain’s second-largest city, Birmingham, in what was developing into the worst outbreak of social unrest in Britain in 25 years.

By early Tuesday, unrest was also reported by the police in two other major cities, Liverpool and Bristol, and an enormous fire was consuming a large warehouse in the Enfield section of London.

Prime Minister David Cameron, apparently caught off guard while on vacation with his family in Tuscany, reversed an earlier decision not to cut short his holiday in the face of plunging world financial markets and boarded a plane for home to lead a cabinet-level meeting on Tuesday to deal with the turmoil.

For Mr. Cameron’s government — indeed for Britain — the rapidly worsening situation presented a profound challenge on several fronts.

For a society already under severe economic strain, the rioting raised new questions about the political sustainability of the Cameron government’s spending cuts, particularly the deep cutbacks in social programs. These have hit the country’s poor especially hard, including large numbers of the minority youths who have been at the forefront of the unrest.

Together with the inevitable pressures to restore some of the spending cuts, Mr. Cameron and his colleagues have to confront the dark shadow that the rioting has cast on plans for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. That $15 billion extravaganza will have its centerpiece in a sprawling vista of new stadiums and an athletes’ village that lie only miles from the neighborhoods where much of the violence in the last three days has taken place. With the Games set to begin in barely 12 months, Britain will have to satisfy Olympic officials that there is no major risk of the Games being disrupted, or ruined, by a replay of the rioting.

Luke MacGregor/Reuters Police officers in riot gear tried to block a road near a burning car in the northern district of Hackney, in London, where rioting continued for a third night.

Beyond these challenges is the crisis that has enveloped London’s Metropolitan Police, popularly known as Scotland Yard, on which security for the Olympics, and the immediate hopes of quelling the rioting, depend.

Even before the outbreak of violence, the police have been deeply demoralized by the government’s plan to cut about 9,000 of about 35,000 officers and by allegations that it badly mishandled protests against the government’s austerity program last winter and failed to properly investigate the phone-hacking scandal that has dominated the headlines here for much of the summer. The force now faces widespread allegations that it failed to act quickly and forcefully enough to quell the rioting at its outset over the weekend. Continue reading

British workers strike against pension cuts

Marchers in London carry placards during a nationwide day of strikes Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of people participated. / LEFTERIS PITARAKIS/Associated Press

BY JILL LAWLESS

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON — British teachers and public-sector workers swapped classrooms and offices for picket lines Thursday as hundreds of thousands walked off the job to protest pension cuts.

Airport operators warned there could be long lines at immigration entry points because of walkouts by passport officers, but most of Britain’s airports, including Heathrow and Manchester, said it was business as usual.

Unions estimated that up to 750,000 teachers and civil servants joined the one-day strike, which disrupted courthouses, tax offices, employment centers and schools. The government said the figure was lower.

Thousands of union members marched through London and other cities to demand that the government rethink plans to curb public-sector pensions. Small groups of anti-capitalist protesters scuffled with police and were cordoned in by officers.

Police said 37 people were arrested for offenses including drug possession, criminal damage and breach of the peace.

Thursday’s walkouts are the first salvo in what unions said they hope will be a summer of discontent against the Conservative-led government’s austerity plans. Continue reading

Bristol, UK: Anti-corporate “direct action” protest against Tesco

Protesters set up barricades

Anti-Tesco protest boils over into riot / Police accused of attacking bystanders

The Independent (UK)

By Kunal Dutta and Oliver Duff

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Hundreds of people set up burning street barricades and hurled rocks at police as anti-Tesco protests in Bristol fast escalated into bloody running battles between officers and residents.

A Tesco Express store in the bohemian neighbourhood of Stokes Croft, in the north of Bristol, became the focal point for the violence, with police claiming that they had uncovered a plot to petrol bomb the store, which opened eight days ago to widespread hostility from the community.

More than 160 police in riot gear, officers on horseback and reinforcements from neighbouring forces fought with protesters for seven hours through the night until dawn yesterday. A swelling, increasingly angry crowd of 300 people upturned bottle banks to gather glass to bombard officers. Continue reading