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

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

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

She Almost Stopped the War

Katharine Gun: Ten years on,  what happened to the woman who revealed dirty tricks on the UN Iraq war vote?

In the run-up to the critical vote on war in Iraq, Katharine Gun exposed a US plot to spy on the UN. As a film of her story is planned, she tells of her anger and frustration – but not her regrets

The Observer, Saturday 2 March 2013

Katharine Gun

[Katharine Gun back in Cheltenham last week: 'This is the ugly truth of what goes on.' Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer]

Ten years ago, a young Mandarin specialist at GCHQ, the government’s surveillance centre in Cheltenham, did something extraordinary. Katharine Gun, a shy and studious 28-year-old who spent her days listening in to obscure Chinese intercepts, decided to tell the world about a secret plan by the US government to spy on the United Nations.

She had received an email in her inbox asking her and her colleagues to help in a vast intelligence “surge” designed to secure a UN resolution to send troops into Iraq. She was horrified and leaked the email to the Observer. As a result of the story the paper published 10 years ago this weekend, she was arrested, lost her job and faced trial under the Official Secrets Act.

The memo from Frank Koza, chief of staff at the “regional targets” section of the National Security Agency, GCHQ’s sister organisation in the US, remains shocking in its implications for British sovereignty. Koza was in effect issuing a direct order to the employees of a UK security agency to gather “the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises”. This included a particular focus on the “swing nations” on the security council, Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, “as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters”. 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

Mindanao: “MILF hails UN, EU, UK, US, other states’ support”

http://www.luwaran.com

October 11, 2012 — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) today said the support of the international community for the recent breakthrough in the GPH-MILF peace process has been overwhelming as it expressed gratitude to world leaders and foreign envoys who have welcomed the Framework Agreement reached between the Government of the Philippines and the (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim has hailed with great satisfaction and utmost gratitude these expressions of support from the United Nations, The European Union, Malaysia, The United Kingdom, Japan, United States Australia, Switzerland, and Indonesia.

“We are deeply honored and humbled, and assured by their support,” Murad told Luwaran in an interview this morning.

Murad particularly took note of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commendation of President Benigno Aquino III for his vision and courage, as well as the commitment of the MILF leadership, in reaching the landmark agreement. 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:

Julian Assange’s full speech from Ecuadorian embassy, London

‘Manning a hero, US war on whistleblowers must end’


Aug 19, 2012 by RussiaToday

Julian Assange makes his first public appearance in two months, ever since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The WikiLeaks founder was granted political asylum on Thursday — a decision that ignited a wave of international responses, with the UK and Sweden opposing the verdict and Latin American countries strongly supporting Ecuador’s move.

Modern Eugenics: UK aid helps to fund forced sterilisation of India’s poor

Money from the Department for International Development has helped pay for a controversial programme that has led to miscarriages and even deaths after botched operations

, The Observer, Saturday 14 April 2012

Sterilisation remains the most common method of family planning in India’s bid to curb its burgeoning population of 1.2 billion. Photograph: Mustafa Quraishi/AP

Tens of millions of pounds of UK aid money have been spent on a programme that has forcibly sterilised Indian women and men, the Observer has learned. Many have died as a result of botched operations, while others have been left bleeding and in agony. A number of pregnant women selected for sterilisation suffered miscarriages and lost their babies.

The UK agreed to give India £166m to fund the programme, despite allegations that the money would be used to sterilise the poor in an attempt to curb the country’s burgeoning population of 1.2 billion people.

Sterilisation has been mired in controversy for years. With officials and doctors paid a bonus for every operation, poor and little-educated men and women in rural areas are routinely rounded up and sterilised without having a chance to object. Activists say some are told they are going to health camps for operations that will improve their general wellbeing and only discover the truth after going under the knife.

Court documents filed in India earlier this month claim that many victims have been left in pain, with little or no aftercare. Across the country, there have been numerous reports of deaths and of pregnant women suffering miscarriages after being selected for sterilisation without being warned that they would lose their unborn babies.

Yet a working paper published by the UK’s Department for International Development in 2010 cited the need to fight climate change as one of the key reasons for pressing ahead with such programmes. The document argued that reducing population numbers would cut greenhouse gases, although it warned that there were “complex human rights and ethical issues” involved in forced population control.

The latest allegations centre on the states of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, both targeted by the UK government for aid after a review of funding last year. In February, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh had to publicly warn off his officials after widespread reports of forced sterilisation. A few days later, 35-year-old Rekha Wasnik bled to death in the state after doctors sterilised her. The wife of a poor labourer, she was pregnant with twins at the time. She began bleeding on the operating table and a postmortem cited the operation as the cause of death. Continue reading

BBC silent on the hunger strike of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners

BBC challenged for ignoring plight of Palestinian prisoners

Glasgow, 25 April 2012
Woman displays portrait of loved one in Israeli prison

Palestinian political prisoners are on mass hunger strike but you’d never know it from watching the BBC.

(Mohammed Asad / APA images)

“I had no idea. How could I not have known?”

I heard those words on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day (17 April) from a teacher, shocked at discovering how Israel abducts, abuses and imprisons Palestinian children — some as young as 12 — in the West Bank because they may or may not have thrown stones at Israel’s wall.

She had tagged along with a friend to a talk given in London by Gerard Horton of Defence for Children International–Palestine Section, and until that moment had been unaware of the brutalities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Horton’s lecture focused on a new DCI-Palestine report which documents the various traumas Palestinian children regularly face during Israeli military detention (“Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention,” 14 April 2012).

The answer to her question is fairly simple: this woman — a member of the educated, professional middle-classes — did not know because she relies on the mainstream media, led by the BBC, for her news. And that media’s silence on the realities of Israel’s occupation is deafening.

Last week, 1,200 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike in protest at the illegalities and injustices of their incarceration. Another 2,300 refused food for the duration of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Their action came just weeks after Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike and Hana al-Shalabi was released (though banished to Gaza) after refusing food for 43 days, both protesting at Israel’s use of administrative detention against them. Continue reading

The National: China’s workplace safety scrutinised in new report showing over 200 deaths a day

Daniel Bardsley (Foreign Correspondent, The National)

December 5, 2011

BEIJING: An accident at a chemical plant in eastern China that killed more than a dozen workers was nothing out of the ordinary in a country infamous for its lack of workplace safety.

Four died immediately in the blast at a melamine factory in Shandong province last month, while 10 more were pronounced dead at hospital.

Dozens died after an explosion at a mine in south-western China a few weeks ago, while a search through the news archives revealed countless other deadly accidents over the past month or so.

China’s workplace death rate is many times higher than those of other developed countries.

In the United Kingdom, for example, there were 171 worker fatalities between April 2010 and March 2011.

When population size is taken into account, China’s workplace death rate is more than 21 times higher than the UK’s. Continue reading

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

Gaddafi And Western Hypocrisy

By Reza PankhurstCountercurrents.org

21 October, 2011

David Cameron’s statement regarding the killing of Moammar al-Gaddafi  will go down as another piece of brash hypocrisy, which would be breathtaking if it was not so expected from the British premier. He mentioned that he was “proud of the role that Britain has played” in the uprising – intending of course the support given by NATO once it was clear that the Libyan people had risen up against the man en masse.

However he neglected to mention some of the other roles that Britain previously played with the Gaddafi regime which have undoubtedly had an effect on the events:

· Many of the weapons used by Libyan dictator’s regime were in fact purchased from Britain. According to the AP: “Britain sold Libya about $55 million worth of military and paramilitary equipment in the year ending Sept. 30, 2010, according to Foreign Office statistics. Among the items: sniper rifles, bulletproof vehicles, crowd control ammunition, and tear gas”

· The notorious Khamis brigade troops (Libya’s elite forces under the direct command of one of the Gaddafi son’s) contracted an £85 million command and control system from General Dynamics UK – one of the deals cut with the personal backing of the then British PM Tony Blair .

· Not only did the British arm the forces of the Gaddafi regime, they also trained them. The Khamis brigade troops were also trained by the SAS as well as being armed by British companies.

Cameron also stated that today was “a day to remember all of Colonel Gaddafi’s victims”. However, he neglected to mention those victims who were kidnapped and rendered to the Gaddafi regime by the British intelligence service such as Sami al Saadi who is now suing the British government for not only being complicit in his rendition and torture, but actually actively organizing it as highlighted by documents unearthed in Libya. Continue reading

Abusive, Xenophobic Detentions, Inc.: A Lucrative Global Growth Industry

September 28, 2011

Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit

By , New York Times

The men showed up in a small town in Australia’s outback early last year, offering top dollar for all available lodgings. Within days, their company, Serco, was flying in recruits from as far away as London, and busing them from trailers to work 12-hour shifts as guards in a remote camp where immigrants seeking asylum are indefinitely detained.

It was just a small part of a pattern on three continents where a handful of multinational security companies have been turning crackdowns on immigration into a growing global industry.

Especially in Britain, the United States and Australia, governments of different stripes have increasingly looked to such companies to expand detention and show voters they are enforcing tougher immigration laws.

Some of the companies are huge — one is among the largest private employers in the world — and they say they are meeting demand faster and less expensively than the public sector could.

Resistance to abusive detention is growing. Here, The Woomera Detention Center, in Australia, was the scene of a detainee breakout in 2002.

But the ballooning of privatized detention has been accompanied by scathing inspection reports, lawsuits and the documentation of widespread abuse and neglect, sometimes lethal. Human rights groups say detention has neither worked as a deterrent nor speeded deportation, as governments contend, and some worry about the creation of a “detention-industrial complex” with a momentum of its own.

“They’re very good at the glossy brochure,” said Kaye Bernard, general secretary of the union of detention workers on the Australian territory of Christmas Island, where riots erupted this year between asylum seekers and guards. “On the ground, it’s almost laughable, the chaos and the inability to function.” Continue reading