Mass hysteria outbreaks hit Bangladesh’s garment workers

[Entire societies have been brutalized, poisoned and traumatized by inhuman colonial and neo-colonial/comprador-ish exploitation.  The most recent mass trauma has hit Bangladesh, where the largest part of the world’s clothing is produced by workers in desperate conditions.  —  Frontlines ed.]
Doctors say ‘mass psychogenic illness’ – not contaminated water – is to blame for recent outbreaks of sickness. Garment workers are fearful of workplace safety after a year of deadly accidents. 

By Correspondent / June 17, 2013

 Bangladeshi garment workers who fell ill during their shifts at a sweater factory lie on beds at a hospital on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 6, 2013. About 450 garment workers fell ill at the Starlight Sweater Factory near Bangladesh's capital, due to possible water contamination.  --   A.M. Ahad/AP


Bangladeshi garment workers who fell ill during their shifts at a sweater factory lie on beds at a hospital on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 6, 2013. About 450 garment workers fell ill at the Starlight Sweater Factory near Bangladesh’s capital, due to possible water contamination. —
A.M. Ahad/AP

Hundreds of garment workers fell ill on Sunday after drinking water of questionable quality at their workplace in Gazipur at the outskirts of Bangladesh‘s capital, Dhaka.

The incident occurred less than two weeks after about 800 workers fell ill and were hospitalized after drinking water at Starlight Sweaters Ltd., which produced clothes for European buyers Carrefour and Otto.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research in Bangladesh, which tested samples of the water after the incident at Starlight Sweaters on June 5, said they did not find anything unusual from the regular contaminants in water. The Institute’s director, Dr. Mahmudur Rahman, found the case to be a result of “mass psychogenic illness.”

The director believed the illness was a result of a panic attack that may have been triggered by factory authorities announcing that something was wrong with the water and closing work for the day. Continue reading

India: Maoists Warn of Ruling Class Hysteria, Threats, Attacks, and False Promises

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST) — CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Press Release, June 11, 2013

See through the conspiracy of the ruling classes to launch bigger offensives on the people using the 25 May attack as a pretext

Unite, Fight back and Defeat the ‘War on People’

The gangster community that made Indian Parliament its lair is in panic. Terrified. Aflutter. Seething. Fuming. Up in arms. Baying for blood. Baring its fangs. Spitting poison. After all the May 25 Jeeramghati attack struck down one of their best trusted lieutenants in field. Quite Understandable.

Actually speaking, the scamster-gangster bunch does not care much for Mahendra Karma’s death because they knew that this was something waiting to happen even when they were carrying on mayhem and murder under Salwa Judum (SJ) which they all had contributed to create or let pester like senators watching gladiatorial contests in amphi-theaters, with Karma as SJ’s public face and with the support of fascist central and state mercenary armed forces. They are frightened more because in this country where every kind of exploitation, oppression, suppression, corruption and scam is carried on almost unchallenged, as the order of the day and shamelessly under public gaze, the fact that somebody ‘out there’ can bring these fascist scamster-gangsters to book and deliver justice is not so easy to stomach. It is like finding oneself completely naked and vulnerable with all robes of Z plus securities and paraphernalia of security suddenly vanishing into thin air with the fury of the suppressed masses breathing down their necks. Highly explicable. A strong reason to be upset.

Who knows who will be next? More chillingly, what would be in store if people completely vexed with the increasingly unbearable treacherous, undemocratic, slavish and wicked anti-people deeds of the pet-dog politicians choose to consider this as an option to vent their ire to put an end to their habitual comprador performance? Even worse, what if they consider doing away with the whole bunch by overthrowing the parliamentary system as the Maoists vouch to and call upon the people to follow? Very worrying indeed.

And for once it is better that they be. They better understand that not every politician can get away with the kind of neo-fascist suppression of the poorest of the poor of this country that was perpetrated in the name of a Salwa Judum, a Sendra, a Shanti Yatra, a Shanti Sena, a Harmad Bahini, a Bhairav Bahini, a TPC or an Operation Green Hunt, can get away with selling the riches of our country one by one as a daily routine at breakfast, lunch and dinner to fill the insatiable black-hole belly of the imperialist beast, can get away with turning every word that gives meaning to our existence as human beings like freedom, independence, sovereignty, self-reliance and democracy meaningless. They better realize for the umpteenth time (counting all such instances since the days of a Spartacus) that a people crushed so cruelly can never take everything lying down forever. For once it is better that they be alarmed.

Karma, a medieval type land lord, architect of SJ, looter, sadist, rapist and enemy of his own tribe; most of his security men, cannon fodder but undoubtedly deployed to aid in his mayhem and massacre; some SJ leaders; and some top Congress leaders were wiped out in the 25 May incident. Unfortunately a few others who got caught in the initial firing also died in spite of our sincere efforts to minimize the casualties once the main targets were caught and Comrade Gudsa Usendi, the Spokesperson of our Party’s DK unit had already tendered apology for it. The list of brutalities perpetrated by Karma and his ilk could fill many a volume. Though not all, many of them have been documented in detail by the CPI (Maoist), revolutionary and democratic mass organizations, civil and human rights organizations, democrats, journalists and concerned citizens for all those who want to see. There is no purpose to the various conspiracy theories doing their rounds in the media about the reasons for this attack other than diverting the people’s attention from the truth. An unabashed conspiracy by the corporate media to hide the truth about the brutality of the SJ and the role of the Indian Army, big corporate houses, central and state governments, the Congress and BJP parties and slaughterers like Karma in its creation and developing it into a man-eating monster. Such is its impatience to get rid of the Maoists that it did not even take into account that SJ was termed illegal by their own highest institution the Supreme Court. And all of them including Jairam Ramesh have once again repeated the most nonsensical and exhausted argument of ‘sandwich theory’ that Adivasis are being crushed between the armed forces on one side and the Maoists on the other. If they really believe in this then why don’t they demand first that the armed forces deployed in lakhs by the central and state governments be immediately withdrawn when they are agreeing that they suppress Adivasis? Their lies fly in their face with the fact that the overwhelming majority of Maoists are Adivasis in the strong areas of the movement. Our Party reiterates that we never work against the interests of the people. It is solely the ruling classes and their forces that suppress the people and our Party fights it back. Continue reading

Biggest protests in 20 years sweep Brazil

Hundreds of thousands march in Brazil

By Todd Benson and Asher Levine, Reuters | SAO PAULO | Tuesday June 18, 2013

(Reuters) – As many as 200,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Brazil’s biggest cities on Monday in a swelling wave of protest tapping into widespread anger at poor public services, police violence and government corruption.

The marches, organized mostly through snowballing social media campaigns, blocked streets and halted traffic in more than a half-dozen cities, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia, where demonstrators climbed onto the roof of Brazil’s Congress building and then stormed it.

Monday’s demonstrations were the latest in a flurry of protests in the past two weeks that have added to growing unease over Brazil’s sluggish economy, high inflation and a spurt in violent crime.

While most of the protests unfolded as a festive display of dissent, some demonstrators in Rio threw rocks at police, set fire to a parked car and vandalized the state assembly building. Vandals also destroyed property in the southern city of Porto Alegre. Continue reading

US / Israel: Behind the Mask of “Human Rights” — Spies for Repression

ADL Spies
by JEFFREY BLANKFORT

“[T]he Anti-Defamation League for many years has maintained a very important, confidential investigative coverage of Arab activities and propaganda….Our information, in addition to being essential for our own operations, has been of great value and service to both the United States State Department and the Israeli government. All data have been made available to both countries with full knowledge to each that we were the source.”

–  Letter from Benjamin R. Epstein, National Director, Anti-Defamation League to Saul Joftes, Executive Secretary, B’nai B’rith, July 7, 1961.

Those were the days when snooping usually meant digging through garbage cans, checking other people’s mailboxes, and primitive phone tapping. How the Anti-Defamation League is doing it today one can only imagine.

Over the last three days of April, the ADL celebrated its 100th anniversary in Washington DC in high style with Vice President Joe Biden the featured speaker at its Centennial Gala dinner on April 30 and Attorney General Eric Holder doing the obligatory genuflecting the day before.

Standing next to the ADL’s ubiquitous current national director, Abe Foxman, Biden told the one thousand paying guests, “You have become the conscience of this country, no matter what the issue. You have been a pillar of the Jewish community, but you reach out and you have reached out your embrace for all communities.”

For hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals the ADL’s embrace has been too close for comfort and “unconscionable” would be a term more befitting the organization’s activities. What is definitely in order is a reminder that this year also marks the 20th anniversary of the exposure of a nation-wide spying operation run by the ADL that went back at least five decades. Continue reading

Turkey: Court bans reports on intelligence data collection, penguins printed in protest

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News,
Monday,June 17 2013

A local court has banned reporting and broadcasting of claims that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had collected and filed data on companies owned by businessmen close to opposition parties, with the aim of stopping them from bidding in public tenders.

On Sunday, Taraf came out with a front page that included photos of penguins.....a reference to a documentary Turkish mainstream TV network CNN Türk controversially broadcast about penguins while protests were growing in Taksim on Friday and Saturday.

On Sunday, Taraf came out with a front page that included photos of penguins…..a reference to a documentary Turkish mainstream TV network CNN Türk broadcast about penguins while protests were growing in Taksim on Friday and Saturday.

The Ankara 2nd Magistrate Court decided on the ban June 14, according to a demand from the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office, which acted following a complaint from MİT itself.

Daily Taraf claimed on June 13-14 that MİT had “illegally” collected data and kept records about the political tendencies of a number of businessmen, regarding their affiliation with the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The court ruling stated that the reports were “targeting the institution” and could not be republished or broadcast in any other print or electronic media, including the paper itself.

MİT, which reports directly to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, declined to make any comment on the Taraf stories when they were printed.

Taraf allocated its front page to the court decision on June 16, showing a picture of a number of penguins in protest at the ruling. Penguins have become the symbol of Turkish mainstream media’s slowness in reporting the Taksim protests, after a prominent news channel broadcast a documentary on the antarctic animals at the same time as mass protests and police interventions were taking place. Taraf also opened a Twitter and Facebook account asking readers to “vote” on whether to carry on the claims about MİT despite the court decision, echoing the government’s recent decision to offer a potential referendum on the future of Taksim’s Gezi Park.

June/17/2013

Chile: Over 320 Student Protesters Arrested Amid Police Repression

The front of the University of Chile (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The front of the University of Chile (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Yesterday a march of Chilean students protesting against the latest education policies of President Sebastián Piñera turned violent when riot police intervened. Official reports stated, 324 students were arrested and at least 74 injured, including 24 policemen and 50 youths.

Before the conflict occurred, students marched peacefully through the main streets of the Chilean capital to demand free public education in protest against Piñera’s intention to fully privatise the university sector.

According to official reports, there were 214 arrests and 17 police officers injured in Santiago, while the other arrests occurred in various cities across the country. Local media has reported of violent police repression during student protests throughout the country.

Later in the day the most serious incident broke out, close to Santiago’s Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho, when a group of masked men split from the main body of marching students and started throwing stones and petrol bombs at the police. Continue reading

Canada: Media Watchdogs denounce phony “pro-life” promotion and faux “objectivity”

Nothing but contempt: Putting the lie to media coverage of Dr. Henry Morgentaler

Nothing but contempt: Putting the lie to media coverage of Dr. Henry Morgentaler

“I have nothing but contempt for people who wish to deny women one of the fundamental rights to control their reproduction.” Dr. Henry Morgentaler, 2010.

In the media avalanche following Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s death on May 29, two radically different views of the man quickly emerged. It was a rare article or newscast that didn’t use words like “polarizing” or “controversial” or “divisive” to describe him. The Globe and Mail was first out of the gate with the phrase “revered and hated” dominating their headline, while CBC gave us a choice between “hero or murderer.” Other media competed with catchy alliterations like “lauded and loathed,” “hero or hellion,” and “revered and reviled.”

Although nearly all mainstream media sources quoted pro-choice views, most also interviewed at least one anti-choice spokesperson (22 out of 35 news articles or broadcasts that I reviewed). Apparently, the media thinks that view has some kind of legitimacy and must be presented against the pro-choice view in the name of “balance.” Well, NO. The anti-choice position — that women must be compelled to carry every pregnancy to term under threat of criminal law regardless of circumstances — is an extremist view held by only 5 per cent of Canadians. It is also profoundly mistaken, cruel and undemocratic. As such, it does not deserve equal time or respect in Canada.

That tiny 5 per cent minority has great representation though — most, if not all, anti-choice organizations in Canada adhere to that same extremist belief. They don’t advocate it openly anymore because they know the public finds it abhorrent. But don’t be fooled — their dream is to ban abortion completely with no exceptions, the same goal as other anti-choice groups around the world. Recent cases in Ireland and El Salvador have shown conclusively that the anti-choice movement considers women to be merely vessels for babies, and that their lives should be sacrificed even for a doomed fetus with no chance of survival. Savita Halappanavar died tragically because of that doctrine — after suffering three days of “pro-life” induced pain and agony — and Beatriz in El Salvador came close to death’s door because of the same malevolent belief. Continue reading

Canada: The Legacy of Abortion Rights Champion Honored

Honouring the legacy of the late Dr. Henry Morgentaler

June 17, 2013
National Statement

Toronto, ON–We, at the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC), celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Henry Morgantaler, whose dedication and commitment in fighting for abortion rights have been a fundamental contribution in women’s historical struggle for basic rights and entitlements  here in Canada and throughout the world. His strong will and determination, over the past few decades in pushing to make abortion accessible for women had been and continues to be an inspiration for all of us to continue to be vigilant in upholding reproductive justice as an integral component in achieving genuine women’s equality and liberation. Continue reading

Dual Power in a Guerrilla Zone: Two Reigns of Political Violence in Bastar

by Bernard D’Mello and Gautam Navlakha

The ambush on May 25 by Maoist guerrillas in the Darba Ghati valley (in the Sukma area of the Bastar region in southern Chhattisgarh), 345 kms south of the state capital of Raipur, of a convoy of provincial Congress Party leaders has shocked the Indian state apparatus. The Z-plus and other categories of armed security personnel — entitlements of the ‘lords’ of India’s political establishment — were no match for the guerrillas. The main targets of the attack were Mahendra Karma, founder of the state-promoted, financed and armed private vigilante force, Salwa Judum (SJ), and Nand Kumar Patel, the chief of the Congress Party in the province and a former home minister of the state.

A press statement issued by Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) (CPI [Maoist]) on May 26 states that the “goal of this attack was mainly to eliminate Mahendra Karma and some other reactionary Congress top leaders”. It pointedly reminds Chhattisgarh’s state government leaders and state police officials “who are hell-bent on crushing the revolutionary movement of Dandakaranya” that they suffer from a “big illusion that they are unbeatable”. Mahendra Karma too falsely believed “that Z-plus Security and bullet proof vehicles would save him forever”. The statement also clarifies that in Chhattisgarh “there are no differences between [the] ruling BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] and opposition Congress in terms of policies of suppressing the revolutionary movement. Only due to public pressure, as well as to gain electoral benefits, some of the local leaders of the Congress at times came [out] in condemnation of incidents like [the] Sarkeguda and Edsametta massacres”.

The convoy was returning from a “Parivartan Yatra” (“March for Change”) rally in Sukma and the Maoists knew not only that Karma and Patel were in the convoy, but even the route that it was to take. The assassinations were thus meticulously planned and executed, though they took a two-hour long gun battle with the state forces to accomplish, a clash in which many who merely serve or protect (the latter, armed personnel) the oppressors, and do so because they have little choice, were either killed or injured. The Maoist guerrillas reportedly even provided first aid to some of these persons who suffered injuries. Continue reading

Nepal: Ex-revolutionaries denounce Indian Maoist’s attack on Salwa Judum (death squads) and Congress Party backers

[Prachanda, once leader of Nepalese Maoists, having disbanded the people’s war, the revolutionary PLA and peoples guerrilla zones and administrative zones, and further confused and disoriented many revolutionaries in Nepal and internationally with a revisionist “creative” line of bourgeois electoralism, has now reached a new pinnacle of craven opportunist betrayal.  In a fitting public testament to his complete renunciation of revolutionary Maoism, Prachanda has now denounced the Indian Maoist attack on the reactionary death squad Salwa Judum, in a message embracing the Indian bourgeoisie with condolences at their loss of their death squad architects.  The blood of the adivasi and Maoist victims of Salwa Judum, on the hands of Sonia Gandhi, is now on Prachanda’s hands as well.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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Prachanda, Koirala express grief over Naxal attack

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Prachanda's correspondent's embrace of Sonia GandhiKathmandu: “Shocked” by the recent Naxal attack in Chattisgarh, Maoist chief Prachanda and Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala have sent condolence messages to Sonia Gandhi over the ambush in which 27 people, including senior Congress leaders, were killed.  “Our party UCPN-Maoist is deeply shocked and saddened by the demise of leaders and workers of the Indian National Congress in the recent attack in Chattisgarh of India unleashed by Indian Maoists,” UCPN-Maoist chairman Prachanda said in a statement. “The incident of violent attack has drawn the attention of our party”, he said, expressing “serious concern” over the incident.  “We join with you in this incident in which 27 people including leaders and workers of the Indian NationalCongress were killed,” Prachanda said in a condolence message sent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.  “I, personally, and on behalf my party, express deepest condolence to the families of those killed and wish for the speedy recovery of those injured in the incident,” Prachanda said. Continue reading

Tel Aviv Sold Advanced Weapons To Four Arab Countries

by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies Tuesday June 11, 2013 11:20
The British Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, has reported that Israel sold, over the past five years, military and security equipment for four Arab countries in addition to Pakistan.
In its report, which deals with military and security equipment exports, the department said that Israel exported the weapons to Algeria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Continue reading

Abu Dhabi buying a new mercenary force to suppress “internal unrest” against petro-monarchies

Colombia Worries as Troops Join Arab Mercenary Force

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, June 7 (UPI) —

Colombia’s defense ministry is alarmed about an exodus of top soldiers to the United Arab Emirates to join a highly paid U.S.-led mercenary force organized by Erik Prince, billionaire founder of the security firm Blackwater.
Prince, who sold Blackwater in 2010 after it was involved in killings and scandals in Iraq, went to Abu Dhabi, capital of the Persian Gulf federation, in 2011.
He signed on to form an 800-man battalion of mercenaries for what emirati officials termed “anti-terrorism operations” inside and outside the country.
But it’s widely believed in Gulf security circles the force, being assembled under considerable secrecy by Prince’s Reflex Responses registered in the emirates, will be used for undisclosed special operations for the seven desert emirates that make up the federation.
That’s expected to include putting down “internal unrest” that might challenge the ruling families, as happened in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, and which is growing in Kuwait and Bahrain. Continue reading

Nigeria: Police Kill University of Uyo Student During Protest Over Campus Buses, Lecture Halls

Police shot and killed at least one student of the University of Uyo Wednesday as a demonstration by students over insufficient lecture venues and campus transit buses transportation system turned violent, witnesses said.

Some residents of the area said three students may have died after police fired live ammunitions into a crowd of protesting students. But the witnesses said they were certain of one casualty. Police authorities in Uyo could not be immediately reached for comments.

A school spokesperson, Godfrey Essien, said he was on leave and was piecing details of what actually happened.

Residents say the students, mainly of Science and Engineering faculties, went on rampage for several hours on Wednesday in protest of poor transportation system for students after authorities ordered the relocation of the Science faculty from the school’s temporary site along Ikpa Road to the permanent site at Nsukara Offot.

The new site lacks enough infrastructures to accommodate the relocating Science students, and the Engineering students who had moved in earlier, leading to frequent confrontations.

The Engineering students are said to occasionally bar the Science students from using the limited lecture rooms and school shuttles between the old and new campuses, about 10 kilometers apart.

N200 per day bus

The transfer of the Science students merely compounded the hardship already faced by students on the permanent site, situated along the road leading to the city’s new airport.

The tipping point for the students, according to residents, came after the Science students were ordered to pay N200 per day to use the campus shuttle buses, against the N1, 000 paid per semester by the Engineering students for the same service. Continue reading

“We Are All Turkish Democrats”: Solidarity from South Africa

“We Are All Turkish Democrats”: a Statement of Solidarity with the Turkish
Struggle

Abahlali baseMjondolo is a democratic, membership based movement of shack dwellers and other poor people in South Africa. In 2005 our experience of suffering and injustice led us to decided to organize ourselves and to represent ourselves. We are struggling for land and housing as a vital step towards the restoration of our dignity and the recognition of our equality. We have been severely punished by those who want to keep us in our place and we have faced serious repression.

When we have come under attack we have received solidarity from across the world – from Auckland to Istanbul, Nairobi, London and New York. We have stood with comrades facing repression in places like Haiti and Palestine. Today we stand with our comrades in Turkey and with all Turkish democrats.

We keep over movement strong by making sure that it always remains in the hands of its members and that we take forward the struggles that affect people’s everyday lives. We call this a living politics. But we take very seriously the fact that the system that has marginalized and oppressed us here in South Africa is the very system that marginalizes and oppresses the people of Turkey. And we have not forgotten that the first people to be in solidarity with our struggle outside of South Africa were the comrades at Sendika and People’s House in Turkey. Continue reading

Iran Trade Unionist, former Political Prisoner, on the Iranian election: “neither free nor fair”

June 13, 2013

Reading Marx in Tehran

By MANSOUR OSANLOO

IRAN’S presidential election on June 14 will be neither free nor fair. The candidates on the ballot have been preselected in a politically motivated vetting process that has little purpose other than ensuring the election of a compliant president who will be loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, the most urgent challenge for both the next president and Ayatollah Khamenei will be to confront a rising tide of discontent resulting from a rapidly deteriorating economic situation.

The outside world is primarily focused on whether the election will signal a shift in the Iranian regime’s stand on the nuclear issue. But for the average Iranian the most important issue is the impact of this election on her pocketbook — especially for the hardworking masses, whose purchasing power has drastically decreased as they struggle to provide the most basic necessities for their families.

Iran’s industrial workers, teachers, nurses, government and service-sector employees have been hit hard. The profound mismanagement of the economy by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, coupled with stringent international sanctions, has made these workers’ plight the most important aspect of Iran’s domestic politics. Continue reading