Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

cast away illusions, prepare for struggle!

Arundhati Roy explains why caste is central to the conflict between the State and its people

‘Since 1947, there has not been a single day where the Indian Army has not been deployed against its own people.’

After the introduction in Tamil, Arundhati Roy’s speech (in English) begins at :45 seconds into the video.

Writer Arundhati Roy doesn’t speak in public often, but she packs a punch when she does. The most recent occasion was the launch of a Tamil translation of BR Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, which includes a detailed introduction and annotations by Roy.

The writer is currently facing criminal trial for contempt of court for an article she wrote about Dr Saibaba’s incarceration in 2015. Her speech covered topics ranging from civil rights movements across the world to situation in India today.

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The Hidden History of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali’s resistance to racism and war belongs not only to the 1960s, but the common future of humanity.

ali

Film footage of Muhammad Ali is used to sell everything from soft drinks to cars. The image we are spoon-fed is the improbably charismatic boxer, dancing in the ring and shouting “I am the greatest.”

The present Muhammad Ali is also a very public figure, despite his near total inability to move or speak. His voice has been silenced by both his years of boxing and Parkinson’s disease. This Ali has been embraced by the establishment as a walking saint.

In 1996, Ali was sent with his trembling hands to light the Olympic Torch in Atlanta. In 2002, he “agreed to star in a Hollywood-produced advertising campaign, designed to explain America and the war in Afghanistan to the Muslim world.”

Ali has been absorbed by the establishment as a legend — a harmless icon. There is barely a trace left of the controversial truth: There has never been an athlete more reviled by the mainstream press, more persecuted by the US government, or more defiantly beloved throughout the world than Muhammad Ali. There is now barely a mention of this Ali, who was the catalyst for bringing the issues of racism and war into professional sports.

The mere thought of athletes using their insanely exalted and hyper-commercialized platform to take stands against injustice is now almost unthinkable. Such actions would break the golden rule of big-time sports — “jocks” are not to be political, except when it comes to saluting the flag, supporting the troops, and selling war.

That is why, when Toni Smith, the basketball captain at little Division III Manhattanville College, turned her back on the flag in 2003, the attack was rabid. The same year, Wake Forest basketball All-American Josh Howard said about the US war on Iraq, “it’s all over oil…that’s how I feel.” Howard was not only derided publicly, but NBA draft reports stated, “Antiwar remarks reflect rumored erratic behavior.”

The hidden history of Muhammad Ali and the revolt of the black athlete in the 1960s is a living history. By reclaiming it from the powers that be, we can understand more than the struggles of the 1960s. We can see how struggle can shape every aspect of life under capitalism — even sports.

Fighting for Justice

No sport has chewed athletes up and spit them out — especially black athletes — quite like boxing. For the very few who “make it,” it is never the sport of choice. Boxing is for the poor, for people born at the absolute margins of society. Continue reading

In 2015, US Police Killed 300 Black People

300 black people killed by US police at highest rate in year of 1,134 deaths total

Final total of people killed by US police officers in 2015 shows rate of death for young black men was five times higher than white men of the same age

Jon Swaine, Oliver Laughland, Jamiles Lartey and Ciara McCarthy | The Guardian | Thursday 31 December 2015

Young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015, according to the findings of a Guardian study that recorded a final tally of 1,134 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers this year.

The Guardian view on killings by US police: why we must keep counting
The Counted has made up for the Obama administration’s failings, but the lack of oversight remains. So we will restart our count of people killed by police until the government does its job

Despite making up only 2% of the total US population, African American males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprised more than 15% of all deaths logged this year by an ongoing investigation into the use of deadly force by police. Their rate of police-involved deaths was five times higher than for white men of the same age. Continue reading

Indian Court Charges Arundhati Roy with Contempt of Court for Writing on Injustice

[Upon revoking the bail and medical release for yet-untried political prisoner Professor GN Saibaba, Bombay High Court Justice Arum Choudari, according to The Hindu newspaper, “issued a notice to writer Arundhati Roy on an intervention plea filed by advocate Bhandarkar , who had blamed Ms.Roy for ‘interference with the administration of justice’ for writing an article in the Outlook magazine in support of Prof.Saibaba.”  This move to suppress the writings of the prominent writer and activist Arundhati Roy further illuminates the repressive and fascist character of the undemocratic Indian state and judiciary.  Roy’s May 2015 Outlook article, “Professor, P.O.W.” which earned the court’s “contempt” notice, is reprinted here below.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Professor, P.O.W.

So afraid is the government of this paralysed wheelchair-bound academic that the Maharashtra police had to abduct him for arrest
May 9, 2015, marks one year since Dr G.N. Saibaba, lecturer of English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University, was abducted by unknown men on his way home from work. When her husband went missing and his cellphone did not respond, Vasantha, Dr Saibaba’s wife, filed a missing person’s complaint in the local police station. Subsequently the unknown men identified themselves as the Maharashtra Police and described the abduction as an arrest.

 

Why did they abduct him in this way when they could easily have arrested him formally, this professor who happens to be wheelchair-bound and paralysed from his waist downwards since he was five years old? There were two reasons: First, because they knew from their previous visits to his house that if they picked him up from his home on the Delhi University campus they would have to deal with a crowd of angry people—professors, activists and students who loved and admired Professor Saibaba not just because he was a dedicated teacher but also because of his fearless political worldview. Second, because abducting him made it look as though they, armed only with their wit and daring, had tracked down and captured a dangerous terrorist. The truth is more prosaic. Many of us had known for a long time that Professor Saibaba was likely to be arrested. It had been the subject of open discussion for months. Never in all those months, right up to the day of his abduction, did it ever occur to him or to anybody else that he should do anything else but face up to it fair and square. In fact, during that period, he put in extra hours and finished his PhD on the Politics of the Discipline of Indian English Writing. Why did we think he would be arrested? What was his crime? Continue reading

Professor G.N. Saibaba writes on Nagpur Jail experience

[Upon publication of this article about his experience in an ‘anda’ (an egg-shaped jail cell), the court denied his temporary bail, ordered his return to jail and withdrew his access to decent medical care. — Frontlines ed.]

by G.N. Saibaba, Frontline, December 23, 2015

My view from an ‘anda’

Bombay HC rejects ailing DU professor GN Saibaba

Delhi University professor GN Saibaba

G.N. Saibaba, a wheelchair-bound Delhi University professor, talks of the days he spent in Nagpur Central Jail, in solitary confinement, after his arrest for alleged Maoist links.

G.N. Saibaba is a professor of English at Delhi University and is wheelchair-bound owing to physical disabilities to the extent of 90 per cent. On May 9, 2014, he was “abducted” when he was on his way home from work, and the next day, he was taken to Aheri, in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district. From there, he was taken to Nagpur Central Jail where he was lodged until June this year when he was granted interim bail for medical treatment. He was charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for alleged Maoist links, and the trial, which began on October 27, 2015, at the Gadchiroli Sessions Court resulted in bail being granted for all co-accused except him. The hearing on his plea for permanent bail was held on December 11, and a final order was awaited at the time of going to press.

The 14 months spent in jail were like 14 years in hell. Thanks to a huge campaign outside and an order by a division bench of the Bombay High Court, I am out for medical treatment; otherwise, I would be dead by now. The prison hospital in Nagpur Central Jail lacks permanent doctors or medicines and is ill-equipped to treat severe ailments. While I was there, five people (one in his 50s, one in his 40s and three in their 30s) died; they could have survived with timely treatment. Apart from the chronic and severe health problems that I already had, I acquired spinal problems while being incarcerated. Owing to the heavy force used by the police in dragging me by my hands, the nerves from my neck to my left shoulder got severely stretched and rendered my left hand immobile. I suffered excruciating pain for 14 months. Instead of treating the ruptured nerve system, I was given painkillers, that too occasionally in the beginning and arbitrarily afterwards, which resulted in damage to my left hand. Despite rigorous treatment in various hospitals every six months, even now I can’t move my left hand above waist height. Besides, I cannot use the ground-level toilet, and they built a Western-style toilet only after eight months. That, too, did not work. Water came for 20 minutes in the morning, but with only one bucket allowed per prisoner not much could be stored. Without water, the closed anda (egg-shaped) cell where I was confined would stink ad infinitum. Continue reading

Artists in India Protest “Growing Intolerance” and “ideological Viciousness”

Tribune India,  November 6 2015

24 filmmakers, Arundhati Roy return their awards

24 filmmakers, Arundhati Roy return their awards

Arundhati Roy

Mumbai, November 5

Another 24 filmmakers, including Kundan Shah of “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” fame and Saeed Mirza who directed “Nukkad”, besides writer Arundhati Roy today returned their national awards over “growing intolerance”, voicing fears that the country’s robust democracy might be “coming apart” in the current atmosphere.

With this, at least 75 members of the intelligentsia have either returned national or literary awards, in an escalation of protests by writers, historians, filmmakers and scientists even as writer Nayantara Sahgal reiterated that “secularism was under threat” like never before. Sahgal was among the first to return the honours when she gave back the Sahitya Akademi award in October. Continue reading