Category Archives: protest

Iraq five years on: End the Occupation – Fight for a socialist solution

By Paddy Meehan, Socialist Youth Regional Organiser

In 2003 Bush’s top commanders met to discuss the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They concluded then it would take four years to “normalise” the country. Yet from this March, US and British troops will have been in Iraq for five years with no end in sight to the conflict.

Bush’s intention is to dump the mess of Iraq onto his successor. It is estimated that the war and occupation of Iraq has claimed the lives of  over one million Iraqis and 4,000 US troops. No US presidential candidate has committed themselves to a complete withdrawal from Iraq. Both Republicans and Democrats represent the interests of companies like Haliburton and Blackwater who have made billions of dollars from the suffering and destruction in Iraq.

The US mission to ‘stabilise’ Iraq has failed miserably as 70% of Iraqi’s are without access to adequate water supplies and in total 4.6 million people have been forced to leave their homes. Living standards in Iraq are getting worse despite contracts of over $20 billion being paid to companies to rebuild Iraq. The US Congressional hearings in February 2007 stated that $10 billion was either “wasted or mismanaged” in Iraq. Along with this hardship, Iraq is descending into sectarian war. US forces lean on different ethnic and religious groups attempting to keep their control of the country. The Sunni Awakening Councils are being recruited extensively into the police and army. This is an attempt to challenge the control of Shia militias such as the Mehdi army by backing sections of the Sunni forces. But the real outcome is a fracturing of the police and army along religious lines, which can increase the likelihood of civil war.

US imperialism’s divide and rule strategy is directly contributing to the increasing sectarian divisions. Imperialism has no progressive role to play in the future of Iraq, and the longer the occupying armies remain the greater the chances of civil war and a break up of the country.   Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party believe that a united movement of working class Iraqis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds could drive out the occupying armies. A struggle by such a movement of the working class against imperialism and for a socialist solution is the only way to guarantee freedom, democracy and a decent life for all.

On 15 March thousands will protest around the world against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the north Socialist Youth is aimimg to collect 5,000 signatures before the anniversary to show the opposition to the war. If you can help collect signatures or can build support for the protest please contact Socialist Youth at socialist.youth@btconnect.com or 02890232962.

In the south Socialist Youth will be participating in protests and also organising a series of “Resistance” meetings around the country at which young people can discuss political issues like the occupation of Iraq, climate change and socialism. You can find out more about Socialist Youth’s “Resistance” and anti-war activities by visiting socialistyouth.wordpress.com or phone us at 01 6772592.

Dublin: Join Socialist Youth on the anti-war demo on Saturday 15th March, 1pm Parnell Square, Dublin. more info – www.bebo.com/Socialist-Youth.

Belfast: Join the Socialist Youth contingent on the protest, Sat 15th March, 2pm Arts College, York St. (beside St Ann’s Cathedral)

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Campaigning against the Occupation of Iraq

To mark the 5th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, Socialist Youth is building for a protest on 15 March in Belfast. SY members have been energetically campaigning outside schools and on the streets with an aim of collecting 5,000 signatures of young people against the occupation of Iraq. The Socialist spoke to SY members Leontia Madden and Conor Barr about how their campaign is going so far.

“Over the past five years the arguments of the anti-war movement have been proved correct. Many young people today may not be too sure of all the facts and figures, but when we get talking to them they have strong feelings against the war” said Leontia. Conor added “The war for oil is a terrible example of capitalism’s constant drive for profits. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, all for natural resources.

“We get young people to sign our petition outside schools across Belfast to demonstrate the opposition which exists but also to raise awareness of what is going on in Iraq. We have received an excellent response with most people signing the petitions and buying our very popular anti-Bush badge. The important thing is we get to speak face to face with people on stalls to put forward a socialist solution.” said Conor, who has been organising very successful stalls at his technical college.

Leontia, a school student from North Belfast said “There is still a feeling of anger against Bush and Blair. But with the occupation lasting five years and no end to the conflict in sight people want to do something more than just sign a petition. We’re holding public meetings in the run-up to the anniversary to explain what is going on in Iraq now and how a socialist solution can be found. As well as this, we want to give an opportunity to people to show their opposition by protesting on 15 March.”

Public Meeting: End the Occupation of Iraq
4.30pm Wednesday 13th Feb. SY Offices, 13 Lombard Street, Belfast

PROTEST against the occupation
2pm Sat 15th March, Arts College, York St, Belfast

Solidarity Needed: US anti-war student suspended in attack on activism

By Angie Jobe Cuba (Foster Student Action) & Ramy Khalil (Youth Against War & Racism)

Overturn antiwar student’s unfair suspension!
Hold the Tukwila School Board accountable!
Keep the teachers hired next semester and next year!

Last Friday, December 7th one of the students at Foster High School in Tukwila, WA involved in Foster Student Action was given a 9 DAY suspension supposedly for “having an Ipod out in class.” However, the real reason she was suspended was because she and other Foster Student Action activists dared to collect petition signatures at lunch period the day before requesting that teachers who allowed the November 16th antiwar student walkout to happen get to keep their jobs.

Who ever heard of someone being suspended for 9 days for having an Ipod out in class? None of the consequences listed in the Foster Student Handbook for having electronics out in class even mentions suspension – only confiscation of the device (see here). And this is the first time this student Bailey Davidson has ever been punished for having electronics at school. So school administrators have blatantly violated their own school rules here.

Many students were using Ipods and cell phone text messaging in the class at the same time as Bailey because the class had a substitute teacher with no lesson plan and students were told simply to do their homework, but many had finished their homework. Yet none of the other students got in trouble. Only this student activist was singled out.

Not only does Vice Principal Wright’s 9-day suspension keep Bailey out of Foster until winter break, but school administrators are also trying to drive her out of the school altogether. They claim that, since she moved residences, she now lives “outside the school district.” However, she recently moved closer to school, not farther from school. She now walks only one mile to school every day. How could this be “outside the school district”? There are around 150 other students who live outside the school district, so why is the administration singling out this one student?

Seventy-one percent of Foster High School students are low-income and qualify for the free and reduced-cost lunch program, and it is a racially diverse school. Thirty percent speak English as a second language. Military recruiters target these students because they are ethnic minorities or come from working-class families with fewer college and career opportunities. Administrators have gotten used to bossing these students and teachers around, but this is the first time these working-class students and teachers have started to speak out against the war’s effects on their communities.

If the administrators get away with this abuse of power, there is nothing to stop them from targeting other students and teachers. This is not just an attack on one student or some teachers, but all of students and all workers — and our Constitutional right to petition local government officials.

Bailey has done better educationally and socially at Foster than at any other school, and she really wants to stay at Foster because Mr. Rogers and a few teachers here have really helped her focus on her studies.

The followinga re teh demands of the campaign:

1. Overturn Bailey’s suspension, and let her stay at Foster!

2. Keep the teachers who allowed or supported students in the walkout hired – not only next semester but also next year!

3. Drop the investigations against teachers now!

4. Remove military recruiters from our school or at least allow us to set up a literature table next to them when they are present!

PLEASE KEEP FLOODING THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS WITH CALLS AND EMAILS AND ASK THEM TO AGREE TO ALL OUR  DEMANDS!

And please forward this appeal widely!

Please send emails to Tukwila School Board members – (replace ‘[at]’ with @ – this is to prevent spamming). A model protest email can be found below:
mfertakis[at]comcast.net
pmaltsberger2000[at]yahoo.com
jasminkakujundzic[at]yahoo.com
wahlsea[at]yahoo.com

Please CC copies to:

Interim Superintendent, Ethelda Burke:
burkee[at]tukwila.wednet.edu

Foster High School Principal, George Ilgenfritz:
ilgenfritzg[at]tukwila.wednetedu

And tukwila.teachers.solidarity[at]hotmail.com so we can count how many protest emails have been sent in.

Thanks for your support,
Angie Jobe Cuba, Foster Student Action, Foster High School
Ramy Khalil, Youth Against War and Racism


Model E-mail of protest

Dear Tukwila School Administrator,

I am writing to demand that the Tukwila School District support the initiative and moral fortitude of students who took a stand against the effects of the Iraq war on their communities. The student march and rally on November 16th were student-generated and entirely peaceful.

With a “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 provision forcing principals to give up the private contact information of young people to military recruiters, students and teachers have the natural right to protest.

With a bloody and illegal war, where the soldiers that are killed and maimed are disproportionately minorities and victims of the “poverty draft,” students and teachers of Tukwila have the natural right to protest.

With more than $500 billion dollars and the lives of more than a million Iraqis having been utterly wasted on a failed war, with schools in marginalized areas falling apart, we should all be protesting with the slogan: “Money for Schools — Not For War!”

With 75% of the American people polling against the war according to the latest Washington Post poll, and a Democratic Congress still making excuses for why it can’t cut off funding to bring the troops home, we must support the young people who speak out against their future being bombed away.

These teachers only misconduct was making their lesson plans truly relevant to the lives of their students.

On the Tukwila School District’s website, the Interim Superintendent posted the following message:

“We believe in the historic mission of public education within our democracy… Our schools are expected to encourage and prepare students to be productive citizens. We believe the challenge is to transform every child – to give every student a chance to become an autonomous, thinking person and a self-governing citizen. We are all here to work together to provide the best education for the most prized commodity of our fine city – the students of the Tukwila School District.”

Yet when the students participate in an act of peaceful civil disobedience in the best traditions of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement who challenged unjust segregation laws, now the school district is hypocritically trying to discourage students from being “self-governing citizens” and standing up for what is right?

You should immediately:

1.  Keep the teachers who allowed or supported the student walkout hired not only next semester but next year!

2.  Overturn Bailey Davidson’s suspension! Let her stay at Foster High School!

3.  Drop the investigations against teachers now!
4.   Remove military recruiters from Foster High School or at least allow students to set up a literature table next to them when they are present!

Please write me back saying that upon further investigation you realize that there is no need for disciplinary action against these students or teachers.

Sincerely,

Name
Organizational Affiliations (if any) 


News Reports & Background:

Great Free Speech Radio News report:
http://www.fsrn.org/content/public-opinion-favors-teachers-wa-disciplined-alleged-involvement-student-anti-war-walk-out

NYC Indymedia:
http://www.indypendent.org/2007/12/08/student-antiwar-walkouts-spark-small-town-backlash/

KIRO 7:
http://www.kirotv.com/education/14714796/detail.html
(Click where it says “video”)

NorthWest Cable News:
http://www.nwcn.com/video/news-index.html?nvid=196453

Seattle Times: “Protesting teacher back at Tukwila school” November 29th
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2004041566_tukwila29m.html

Student-made Walkout Film:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGSDzDF7xoY

Great report on antiwar student walkouts:
http://yawr.org/nov16/seattle.html

Articles on Youth Against War and Racism student victories against military recruiters in schools:
http://yawr.org/victory/victory.htm#tacoma
http://yawr.org/victory/victory.htm#kennedy
http://www.socialistalternative.org/news/article13.php?id=611

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Nov. 16th Walkout Article:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/340003_peace17.html

For more information go to www.socialistslternative.org or e-mail Foster Student Action at foster.action[at]gmail.com.

People & planet before profits! For socialist change – Not climate change

This is the text of the leaflet distributed by Socialist Youth activists at the Global Day of Action against Climate Change protest in Dublin on December 8th. You can also view it as a PDF here.

Catastrophe faces our planet because of climate change. A whole number of studies, reports and films such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth have highlighted this fact.

In February of this year, a report written by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that temperatures could rise as much as 6.4OC by the end of this century. Already climate change has resulted in the doubling of category four and five storms in the last 30 years, while arctic ice has thinned by 40% in the last 40 years.

For socialist change - Not climate change

While climate change effects our planet as a whole, it is the world’s workers and poor who will bear the brunt. If major action is not taken to halt climate change then 600 million more people in sub-Saharan Africa will go hungry from collapsing agriculture, 400 million more will be exposed to malaria and 200 million people will be forced to migrate due to rising sea levels, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

Kyoto II?

This week, the representatives of 169 countries will meet at a United Nations summit in Bali, Indonesia. The supposed aim of this conference will be to tackle global warming and produce a “Kyoto Treaty II”. However, the Kyoto Treaty itself was completely insufficient in reducing carbon emissions. Now, 150 of the world’s major companies have come in favour of a treaty that will cut climate change. The commitment of multinationals such as these and their representatives such as Bush, Brown and Sarkozy to tackling climate change is as hollow as their supposed aim of “Making Poverty History” a number of years ago!

Big Business opposes tackling climate change

It was oil and car companies who lobbied to stop the development of environmentally friendly electric car ten years ago in the US. They were afraid that the production of such a car would cut across the obscene profits that they make annually. When the IPCC report came out this year, Exxon oil offered $10,000 to any scientist who could discredit its findings.

When it comes to tackling climate change big business is the problem not the solution! In Ireland, it is the profiteering of property developers that has led to the unsustainable development of our cities. This development has meant an enormous urban sprawl, without the necessary infrastructure such as a properly funded public transport system. This has led to massive gridlock on our roads. It is hardly surprising that CO2 emissions in this country have increased by 25% in the past 15 years, while transport emissions have increased by 125%!

Green Party sell-out

In this weeks budget Fianna Fail and the Green Party introduced changes to VRT and motor tax aimed at reducing carbon emmissions. These changes are tokenistic and when related to the scale of the problem they are irrelevant. Contrast these superficial changes with what else the Greens have done. As government ministers, Eamon Ryan has allowed Shell to continue with its refinery in Bellanaboy, and John Gormley now supports the construction of waste incinerators!

Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party believe that parties such as Fianna Fail and Fine Gael represent the interests of big business and are therefore incapable of effectively reducing carbon emissions. We believe that any party that claims to have our planet’s interests at heart should not enter government with parties such as these. The experience of the Green Party in government since then went into coalition with the Fianna Fail and PDs in June proves this point.

Build a movement for system change

Socialist Youth stands for the building of a mass movement of working and young people to challenge climate change. We need to fight for a democratic publicly owned and properly funded transport system as an alternative to cars. We should demand that adequate resources are put into renewable energy as a step to phasing out our reliance on fossil fuels.

The international dictatorship of big business means climate change, war, poverty and attacks on the rights of workers and young people. In a socialist society the democratic public ownership and planning of our world’s resources could make the necessary investments into challenging climate change, while at the same utilising our planet’s wealth to abolish want and insecurity. This could be done by getting rid of the wastage that capitalism produces such as the $800 million spent on the arms trade each year and the unnecessary duplication of goods as well as the $1 trillion spent on advertising yearly.

We demand:

No to the exploitation of the environment for the profits of big business

No to nuclear power – For clean, safe and renewable sources of energy to be used in place of fossil fuels

For a massive injection of resources into reversing global warming

No to working class people paying the price of the bosses’ pollution

For a democratic and sustainable socialist plan of production that prioritises the needs of the world’s majority not the profits of big business

SOLIDARITY NEEDED: UCD Students victimised for protesting against Shell and government ministers

 

By Paul Murphy

A member of the Socialist Party, Darren Cogavin, and one other student, Enda Duffy, are due to meet the Vice President for Students at University College Dublin (UCD), Dr. Martin Butler, in the next week. They face punishment for engaging in a peaceful protest against the giant corporation Shell and the Green Party Minister for Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan.

Two protests, organised by the campaign ‘Shell to Sea’, took place on 30 October in UCD, the biggest college in Dublin. They were opposing the giveaway of over 50 billion euro worth of gas for free by the Irish government to Shell, and the building of an unsafe onshore pipeline and refinery by Shell in Rossport, Co. Mayo, on Ireland’s west coast.

The first protest was outside a Shell recruitment fair, highlighting the role of Shell in Mayo and internationally. The second took place outside a lecture theatre where Eamon Ryan was due to speak at a debate. He was confronted by about 50 chanting protestors and he turned on his heels and left.

In the aftermath, the college authorities and some right-wing students tried to paint these as ‘violent protests’, which they were not. Three students have received letters from the college authorities, claiming that the protestors harassed students, intimidated staff and put the safety of others at risk.

One of the students has already met with the authorities and been given a fine of up to 100 euro. The Socialist Party says no student should face any disciplinary action, or have to pay any fine, for engaging in a peaceful protest.

The authorities’ action is clearly an attempt to criminalise protest on campus. Recently, general activity by students in the college has been at a relatively low level, and now the authorities are now attempting to set a precedent of punishing students for protest.

The college authorities can be made to step back, through pressure in the college (the Students’ Union President has supported the students) and from outside, with a campaign of emails and phone call protests.

Please send protest emails to:

Dr. Martin Butler: martin.butler@ucd.ie.
The protest emails should be also sent to

the UCD President president@ucd.ie

and cc’d to: paul@socialistparty.net

Phone calls will have a big impact

Please let the UCD authorities know about your protest by phoning Martin Butler on (01) 716 1280

UCD President, Hugh Brady, can be phoned on (01) 716 1618

Parasites that suck the poor dry – Protest against the World Bank

By Conor Payne

On the 12 & 13 November, the World Bank meets in Malahide in Dublin. The Irish government will no doubt pour money into hosting this summit and keeping the delegates in luxurious conditions. At the same time workers and young people need to “welcome” these representatives of big business by protesting against their summit and its agenda.

The decisions this small, unrepresentative minority make behind closed doors will affect the lives of billions, especially in the third world. This institution offers loans to some of the poorest countries, demanding in exchange that they introduce “Structural Adjustment Programs”- a fancy term for neo-liberal policies of privatisation, cuts, deregulation and elimination of protection for workers. For example, the privatisation of South Africa’s water service resulted in 10 million people who were unable to pay being cut off from their water supply.

This year the World Bank ranked Georgia as the best country in the world in the area of “employing workers”, because it passed a law allowing workers to be fired without any reason and prohibiting trade unions if they contribute to “social conflict”! Disgustingly, the World Bank, along with the IMF, has been responsible for the imposition of “user fees” within the health services of African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, which have been devastated by AIDS and poverty.

The World Bank also seeks to squeeze money for debt repayment from the neo-colonial world. The underdeveloped world pays out $13 in debt for every dollar it receives in aid, with many governments spending significantly more on debt repayment than on social services such as health and education. Roughly two thirds of the money loaned out by the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) is sent back to the World Bank in the form of debt repayment.

This neo-liberal agenda is not isolated to the neo-colonial world. In Ireland, the government is imposing extensive cuts in the health service, while providing support to private, profit-driven healthcare through its co-location scheme. Meanwhile in the workplace there is a race to the bottom underway in terms of wages and conditions. The policies of the World Bank provide no future for young people anywhere.

We live in world where half the planet’s population live on less than a dollar a day and 1.7 million children die a year as a result of poverty. Meanwhile, the 3 richest people on earth control more than the 48 poorest countries and over $1 trillion is wasted on arms every year. The massive wealth and resources of the world are concentrated in the hands of big business which runs it purely in the interests of profit, for a privileged tiny minority. The agenda of the World Bank is to deepen this situation even further. We need to protest against the World Bank and show them that their right-wing, neo-liberal agenda will not go unchallenged. At the same time we need to put forward an alternative to the capitalist profit system, a democratic socialist society where the wealth is democratically controlled by and for ordinary people rather than for the greed of a minority.

If you are interested in protesting against the World Bank then contact Cillian at 087 1274315 or 01 6772592.

Dublin: Attack on freedom of speech – DCC impose ban on leaflets

By Stephen Rigney

Under anti-litter legislation, Dublin City Council litter wardens have begun enforcing a ban on handing out leaflets in the city centre area.  While this ban has been pushed as a reaction to litter on the streets of Dublin, the ban is also politically motivated. 

Inability to distribute leaflets on the streets will cut across community and workers’ campaigns and smaller political parties being able to organise public events, anti-war demonstrations and to generally distribute political material.

The fact that the Council has not take any steps against the fast food companies or delicatessens, who’s packaging contributes to the majority of rubbish on our streets is further proof of the political nature of this ban.

The council has previously used anti-litter laws to cut across campaigns, as in 2003 when they introduced a ban on postering in Dublin City to prevent anti-bin charges and anti-war meetings being organised. While the ban on postering has been relaxed, it still has an effect on making it difficult for campaigns and parties, who don’t have the huge resources of the big parties for professional advertising, to organise successful public events. The leaflet ban will only further increase these difficulties.

Leafleting and postering played a crucial role in organising the 100,000 strong anti-war demonstration in February 2003 as well as the mass meetings of the anti-ban tax campaign. The council and government both fear that more demonstrations and campaigns like this are on the way, as young people and workers’ struggle against the attacks on wages and conditions of workers, cuts in healthcare and the continuing use of Shannon airport by the US military.

This undemocratic ban must be opposed by activists, workers, young workers and those involved in the socialist movement.