Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ireland: As Irish Water crashes and burns, a people is risen

Water protest in Dublin
The Irish government’s unpopular public utility, Irish Water, has been dealt a body blow, after it failed two key tests within the space of a fortnight, gifting a huge victory to opposition parties and the massive anti-water charges movement.

On 15 July the government revealed that, of Ireland’s approximately 1.5 million households, only 645,000, or about 43 percent, had paid the first water bills issued by the new body.

Facing down threats of tax increases or of having water supplies cut off, and accusations from an increasingly hysterical government that those opposed to water charges were “fascists”, "ISIS" and a “sinister fringe”, more than half of Irish households have refused to pay the hated new charges.

Perhaps expecting a poor return, the government has already rammed legislation through the Dáil that will allow unpaid bills to taken from people’s wages and welfare payments.

Mary Lou McDonald TD, Deputy President of the anti-austerity republican party Sinn Féin, welcomed the low payment figures.

“This is a serious embarrassment to the government who have done their best to denounce and belittle the resistance to their introduction of water charges,” she said.

“The defiance of the Irish people tells them in no uncertain terms that water charges are unwelcome and that they will not be cowed by threats.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Germany: Left-wing politician car-bombed as attacks on refugees rise

Die Linke councillor and refugee activist, Michael Richter
Just after midnight on Monday 27 July, a bomb exploded in the car of left-wing politician and refugee activist, Michael Richter, in the town of Freital, on the outskirts of Dresden in eastern Germany.

Richter, a 39-year old town councillor for the socialist party Die Linke (“The Left”) was not in the car at the time, and fortunately noone was harmed by the blast, which damaged a nearby car.

While police are yet to assign blame, Richter is certain that the attack came from right-wing groups in the area, who have threatened him repeatedly in recent months over his campaigning work for refugees.

"I am one of the faces in Freital who say we are for asylum, and I think that's the reason for the attack," Richter said after the blast.

"Threats have now become reality. They are trying to scare me, but I will not give up,"

Germany has seen a steady rise in violence against asylum seekers in the past year, with the German Federal Ministry of the Interior recording 202 attacks in the first six months of 2015 alone, compared to 162 in all of 2014 and 58 in 2013.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Thermopylae or Versailles? Greece deal threatens to destroy the European project

Europe, as we know it, appears to be over. 

The promise of a peaceful integration of capitalist equals lies tattered on the floor of a negotiation room in Brussels. There, the SYRIZA-led Greek government finally succumbed to the blackmail, economic carpet-bombing and “mental water-boarding” of the institutions of European capitalism.

The final weeks of the debt negotiations culminating in a cynical political coup against Greece have laid bare the undemocratic, technocratic nature of the European Union (EU), which operates as a thieves’ kitchen to protect vested financial interests at an incalculable human cost.

For many, the brutal humiliation of the Greek government and people heralds the end of the dream that the EU could be softly nudged towards a benevolent economic and political union. For others on both the political far left and far right, it provides further justification for a perspective of exiting the EU to return social and political issues to a primarily national level.

German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, an intellectual figurehead of European integration, told The Guardian on 17 July that the outcome of the negotiations means that the “European Council is effectively declaring itself politically bankrupt”. 

Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman, described the terms of the deal as “madness”, and argued that “[w]hat we’ve learned these past couple of weeks is that being a member of the Eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line.”

“This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief … it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for,” he said. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ireland: British collusion exposed in hundreds of paramilitary murders

The BBC’s Panorama program on May 28 made explosive revelations about British state collusion with paramilitaries in the North of Ireland, implicating it in the murder of hundreds of people, and in subsequent cover-ups.

The documentary, titled "Britain’s Secret Terror Deals", detailed British security forces collusion with illegal paramilitary groups in the North on a vast scale, running thousands of informants and agents, many of them known criminals and murderers.

Former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan told the program that some paramilitary informants recruited by the security forces during “the Troubles” were serial killers, and that their crimes – including murder, intimidation, drug smuggling and terrorism – were covered up.

“They were running informants and they were using them,” O’Loan told the program.

“Their argument was that by so doing they were saving lives, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people died because those people were not brought to justice and weren’t stopped in their tracks,” she said.

"There was impunity really for these people to go on committing their crimes. Many of them were killers, some were serial killers."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Germany: G7 meets amid mass protests

Schloß Elmau, venue of the G7 summit
Tens of thousands of anti-capitalist, environmental and social justice activists have taken to the streets and the country roads of Bavaria to protest the Group of Seven (G7) nations summit, which took place on June 7 and 8 in a secluded castle in the German Alps.

On June 4, over 35,000 demonstrators marched peacefully in the Bavarian capital Munich, protesting the destructive policies of the G7 industrialised nations – climate change, militarisation and NATO expansion in Europe, economic austerity and poverty, democracy-destroying free trade deals and more. 

Some protesters dressed as clowns, while others wore black or even traditional Bavarian lederhosen, and carried rainbow flags and banners bearing slogans such as “Stop the G7 now!”, "G7 go to hell" and “Revolution is the solution”.  

On June 8, another 8,000 protesters marched through the alpine resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a few hours south of Munich, in the shadow of Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze. 

The meeting between the leaders of the G7 nations – the United States, Britain, Canada, Italy, France, Japan and Germany – was held nearby at Schloss Elmau, a picturesque castle converted into a luxury hotel, at a cost of approximately US$350 million.

Over 22,000 police were deployed to protect the summit – the largest police operation in Bavarian history – and 17 kilometres of temporary fenceline was erected to keep protesters out.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Euskal Herria: Historic pro-Basque coalition forms government in Navarre

Uxue Barkos, leader of Geroa Bai
Regional elections held in Spain on May 24 have installed an historic pro-Basque state government in the autonomous community of Navarre for the first time,  bringing to an end 16 years of rule by the pro-Spanish, centre-right Navarrese People's Union (UPN).

The UPN won only 15 seats, down four from 2011, while their allies the right-wing Spanish People’s Party (of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy) won 2, half of their quota in 2011.   

Instead, Uzue Barkos, leader of the pro-Basque coalition Geroa Bai (“Yes to the Future”) – itself a coalition of centre-left Basque nationalist association Zabaltzen and the centre-right Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) – approached other pro-Basque parties to negotiate a coalition government after her party won 9 seats.      

In order to form government, Geroa Bai needed to secure 26 seats in the 50-seat Navarrese parliament – 17 more than their direct mandate.      

Geroa Bai immediately entered into discussions with the Basque leftist pro-independence coalition Euskal Herria Bildu ("Basque Country Unite", EH Bildu), which won 8 seats, the new Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos (7 seats) and the left-federalist Izquierda-Ezkerra ("Left-Left", I-E) – the Navarra affiliate of Spain's Izquierda Unida ("United Left") – with 2 seats.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Trade Union Royal Commission signals new attacks on workers’ rights

On May 19 the Abbott government’s Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption released a 116-page discussion paper (PDF) of potential law reforms, recommending a swathe of new attacks on union rights.

The proposals in the paper give the clearest indication so far of the likely outcome of the expensive inquisition into the union movement when the Commission releases its findings in December.

The document presents little more than a sweeping wish list of restrictions on the rights of union officials and the ability of unions to carry out their work to benefit members.

Among the ideas presented for “discussion” is further restricting right of entry provisions, making it harder for unions to enter worksites to investigate safety and other breaches by employers.

In this, as well as other proposals, the pro-employer bias of the commission is clear. Rather than the importance of union right of entry in preventing workplace deaths and protecting work conditions, the paper is concerned with union right of entry powers as a “serious encroachment upon liberty” to be curtailed.

Directly targeting union militancy, the paper also suggests new police “move on” powers to break up picket lines and protests at construction sites.

Under the proposed new laws, anyone who failed to leave an area within 15 minutes of a police direction would be guilty of an offence, and conviction would be grounds to automatically ban a person from holding any union office.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Germany: SPD wins Bremen election amid record low voter turnout

The German city-state of Bremen went to the polls on May 10
Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) has narrowly held on to power in the city of Bremen, Germany’s smallest state, after elections on May 10 saw the governing coalition returned with a diminished majority amidst a record low voter turnout.

While the SPD still topped the poll with 32.9 percent, its vote share was down 5.7 percent on the 2011 election, and marks its worst ever result in Bremen.

The SPD has governed the city-state – one of Germany’s main industrial centres – continuously since the end of World War Two. Bremen, with a population of only 655,000, has been hard hit by a gradual decline in the local shipbuilding industry and by weakened public finances.

It now suffers from Germany’s highest unemployment rate, at 11 percent, as well as high levels of debt. According to a recent report by German charity Der Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband, nearly a quarter of people in Bremen live in poverty, more than any other German state.

The level of political engagement has suffered as a result, with barely fifty percent of the electorate turning out to vote in this election – the lowest turnout in any poll in modern Germany history. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ireland: Attacks on leading Sinn Féin members a threat to peace

Arson attack on a Sinn Féin billboard in Derry
A series of violent attacks and bomb threats against leading members of Sinn Féin, as well as a fatal shooting, threaten to overshadow May 7 elections in the six counties in the north of Ireland.

In recent weeks leading up to the May 7 British General Election there have been a series of arson attacks on Sinn Féin electoral billboards across the six counties.

Since the start of May, however, these attacks have escalated dramatically into a campaign of intimidation and violence, including arson, death threats, and bomb alerts targeting leading republicans.

On May 2, a number of cars were set alight in Derry, including one belonging to well-known local community worker and Sinn Féin activist Sean McMonagle.

Early in the morning of May 5, high profile Sinn Féin member Gerard “Jock” Davison was gunned down near his home in the Markets area of south Belfast on his way to work at the local community centre.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Germany: Record rail strike brings country to a halt

Striking GDL workers
On May 5, thousands of German train drivers and railway workers embarked on a week-long strike, the longest rail strike in the country’s post-war history, after fraught industrial negotiations broke down again.

Approximately two thirds of Germany’s long distance trains and a third of regional trains have been cancelled, with trains in the eastern region around Halle, Leipzig, and Dresden reduced to around 15 percent of services.

Some subway systems were also affected, including those in Hamburg and Berlin.

Deutsche Bahn accounts for about a fifth of Germany's freight transport – around 1 million tonnes per day – as well as moving 5.5 million passengers daily.

During earlier railway strikes, economists from the Federation of German Industries estimated that extended train strikes could cost Germany's economy "up to 100 million euros per day", and German industry has, predictably, condemned the strike.

In November last year, train drivers announced an until-then-unprecedented four-day strike, but then shortened it to three days, the longest since a GDL-led national strike in 2007.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Germany: Blockupy protests target Europe's financial hypocrisy

Tens of thousands protested in Frankfurt on March 18
The protests that met the official opening of the new European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt on March 18 were largely symbolic – not only because bank staff had already moved in last November, but also because the building itself represents the ugly hypocrisy lying at the heart of the European project.

Over 20,000 anti-capitalist protesters took to the streets of Frankfurt last week to coincide with the heavily-policed opening, taking part in mostly peaceful protests in the German financial capital to oppose the ECB’s “asphyxiating” economic policies.

Included in the ranks of the protesters were representatives of Germany’s main opposition party, the left-wing Die Linke, German trade union Verdi, the Greek ruling party SYRIZA, and Podemos from Spain, as well as unions, NGOs and grass-roots activists from 39 European countries.

Across the Eurozone, the ECB – part of the “Troika”, along with the International Monetary Fund and the Eurogroup – is playing a central role in forcing national governments to cut public spending, privatise infrastructure and push down wages while unemployment and poverty continue to increase.

These policies have caused untold misery and suffering for millions of Europeans in order to maintain a system of corporate profits and a false sense of economic order in the name of “austerity” and “growth”, but have also given rise to powerful popular resistance movements across Europe – particularly in Greece, Spain and Ireland.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Euskal Herria: Spanish arrests a snub to calls for peace in the Basque Country

Guardia Civil arresting Oihana Barrios
The Spanish state has responded to an international declaration calling for the release of Basque political prisoners and a restoration of the peace process by arresting four representatives of the prisoners’ rights movement.

On March 25, Guardia Civil (Spain’s heavily politicised military police) arrested Nagore López de Luzuriaga, Izaskun Abaigar, Fernando Arburua and Oihana Barrios, in a series of coordinated raids in an operation codenamed “Pastor” (“Shepherd”).

Spain’s Ministry of the Interior confirmed that the operation had been carried carried out in the Basque provinces of Gipúzkoa, Vizcaya and Alava, as well as in Nafarroa, and that more arrests have not been ruled out.

The Ministry accused the four arrested of being part of a network using Basque political prisoners to support terrorism, and of coordinating a “cohesion front” among the prisoners on behalf of a terrorist organisation.

In fact, the “terrorist organisation” they are accused of working for – the armed separatist group ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna; “Basque Homeland and Freedom”) – has been on a "permanent ceasefire" since 2012, and accepts the necessity of a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ireland: Massive water protest keeps pressure on government

Water protesters in Dublin, March 21
On March 21, nearly 90,000 people took to the streets of Dublin, in an unprecedented fifth mass protest in six months against the introduction of water charges by the Irish government.

Protesters from across the country gathered at three different locations in the city, before converging on O’Connell Street, home to Dublin’s iconic General Post Office – site of the Easter Rising in 1916 that began Ireland’s War of Independence nearly a century ago.

The human sea of flags, banner and placards was addressed by a range of politicians, community activists and union leaders. Between speakers, the crowd chanted slogans against water charges, including “Can’t pay! Won’t Pay” and “From the rivers to the sea, Irish water will be free”.

The protest was organised by the Right2Water campaign – a broad coalition of community groups, NGOs and political parties, led by some of Ireland’s largest unions.

Since October last year, Right2Water has coordinated a series of massive protests in Dublin and across the Republic of Ireland, involving hundreds of thousands of people in what is being described as the biggest mass mobilisation of people the country has ever seen.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ireland: Sinn Féin fights welfare attacks in the north

Sinn Féin MLA and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
On Monday March 9, Sinn Féin announced it would oppose the new welfare reform bill in the northern Irish Assembly, accusing its government partners – the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – of acting in bad faith on protecting welfare recipients.

Sinn Féin is in a power-sharing arrangement as part of the Good Friday peace agreement signed in 1998, which sought to end the violence that had wracked Ireland's north since the late 1960s, known as The Troubles.

The same day, Sinn Féin moved a Petition of Concern — supported by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) — in the Assembly to prevent the passage of the bill, which would impose cuts to welfare. This forced the DUP Minister for Social Development, Mervyn Storey, to withdraw the bill and re-enter talks to resolve the stand-off.

The welfare reform bill forms part of the recent Stormont House Agreement (SHA) – a five party agreement covering national identity issues, welfare reform and government finance in northern Ireland that was agreed to on December 23 last year, after several months of fraught negotiations.

Throughout last year, disagreements between Sinn Féin and the DUP on a range of issues escalated dangerously, and there was growing risk that failure to arrive at an agreement on the SHA might bring down the Stormont administration.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sinn Féin MEP goes on “language strike” in European Parliament

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada
On March 2, Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada began a stailc teanga (“language strike”) in the European Parliament, in protest against the second-class status afforded the Irish language by the European Union (EU) and to highlight the Irish Government’s lack of action on the issue.

Sinn Féin’s Irish Language Officer and daughter of influential Irish composer and musician Sean Ó Riada – Ní Riada was elected to the European Parliament in May last year, and has already been shortlisted for an MEP of the year award.

Ní Riada has timed her strike to coincide with Seachtain na Gaeilge (“Irish Language Week”) which runs from March 1 to 17.

While Irish is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland, it was only accepted as an official working language of the EU in 2007, and was then immediately granted a renewable five-year “derogation”. This legal loophole means that European institutions are exempted from providing full translation or interpretation services in Irish, as they are obliged to do with all other official EU languages.

The derogation has been renewed for a further five years, and  unless lifted will remain in place until 2017.

Announcing her strike at the International Conference on Language Rights in Dublin on February 17, Ní Riada declared: “For the duration of Seachtain na Gaeilge I will be on a language strike. This means I will only speak Irish in my work with the European Institutions as a protest against the derogation.”

“My aim is to draw attention to derogation and to encourage the Irish Language community and the Irish people in general to put pressure on the Government to remedy the situation.”

Friday, February 27, 2015

Greece: Syriza wins loan extension, but with strings attached

Alexis Tsipras celebrating SYRIZA's victory, January 25
On February 23, Greece’s new left-wing SYRIZA government submitted its list of proposed economic reforms to its international creditors as a precondition for the approval of a four-month loan extension tentatively agreed to on February 20.

With Greece’s existing loan arrangement expiring on 28 February and bankruptcy looming, a last minute deal was finally agreed after three weeks of intense negotiations that were characterised by daily – sometimes hourly – twists and turns, claims and counterclaims, leaks and threats.

For SYRIZA, elected on January 25 on a wave of hope and a fierce rejection of the crippling austerity measures that have been imposed on Greece in return for economic “bail-out” programs by the “Troika” – the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) – the new arrangement represents a significant compromise.

Any discussion of debt write-offs, “hair-cuts” or renegotiation has been postponed until the next round of negotiations at least, and funds earmarked for bank recapitalisation will have to be used for that purpose, rather than redirected towards meeting Greece’s desperate social need.

Greece no longer has to accept the unilateral diktats of the Troika and is able instead to negotiate with each body separately. But the new funding comes with conditions, including close oversight by those same bodies, now referred to as “the institutions”, and restrictions on how the money can be utilised.

Importantly, the SYRIZA government has been required to refrain from any “rollback of measures and unilateral changes to the policies and structural reforms that would negatively impact fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability, as assessed by the institutions.”

While less than specific, this restriction likely includes any privatisations already completed, as well as those currently underway (although Greek law allows the government to change the terms of sale). 

Depending on the "assessment" of the institutions, this may also impact on measures promised by SYRIZA to improve social welfare, such as raising the minimum wage and the restoration of collective bargaining and other workplace rights. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Germany: Hamburg elections a win for SPD and smaller parties, but a blow against Merkel

State elections in Hamburg on February 15 saw the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) retain control of the traditionally left-wing city-state, while smaller parties of the left and right also made gains.

The SPD won 45.7 percent of the votes, equal to 58 seats in the city legislature – a result down 2.7 percent on the record margin it won in 2011. Having now lost the absolute majority the party held prior to the vote, SPD Mayor Olaf Scholz will need to find a coalition partner in order to form government.

The most likely candidate for this role is the Green Party, which has already indicated its willingness to enter a coalition. The Greens took 12.2 percent of the vote, a slight increase on the 2011 result.

On the other hand, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the biggest loser, dropping by 6.1 points to only 15.9 percent of the vote – barely enough to keep second place ahead of the Greens.

It was the party’s worst ever result in Hamburg and its worst result in a state election since 1959, and – when viewed in light of the 20 percent the CDU lost in 2011 – the result suggests that the conservatives are truly in crisis in the Hanseatic port city.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Irland: Der Ruf nach einer neuen linken Kraft wird lauter

Proteste gegen Wassersteuern in Dublin, November 2014, informatique/flickr
Von Zeitschrift LuXemburg - Gesellschaftsanalyse und linke Praxis. Bitte lesen Sie diesen Artikel >>HIER<<.

Führende GewerkschafterInnen, die republikanische Partei Sinn Fein und eine Reihe weiterer linker Stimmen haben einen Aufruf zur Bildung einer neuen politischen Kraft gegen die Austeritätspolitik unterstützt – mit der Perspektive, die Regierung in der Republik Irland zu übernehmen.

Anknüpfend an den historischen Sieg von SYRIZA in Griechenland am 25. Januar, rief der Vorsitzende von Sinn Fein, Declan Kearney, dazu auf, eine organisierte Diskussion um den Aufbau einer breiten linken Koalition zu führen. In der Februarausgabe der republikanischen Zeitung An Phoblacht hatte Kearney die Linke aufgerufen, sich die verbreitete Wut gegen die lähmenden Sparmaßnahmen zunutze zu machen, um eine glaubwürdige linke Alternative in Irlands südlichem Staat aufzubauen.

»In Irland sollte eine politische Diskussion um die Frage beginnen, wie ein Konsens zwischen Sinn Fein, progressiven Unabhängigen, der Gewerkschaftsbewegung, lokalen Initiativen und der nichtsektiererischen Linken herbeigeführt werden kann«, so Kearney.

»Es ist jetzt Zeit für ernsthafte politische Diskussionen zwischen AktivistInnen progressiver irischer Politik, der Lokalpolitik und den Gewerkschaften über Ideen und Strategien, wie die Wahl einer linken Koalition im Süden erreicht werden kann, um eine neue nationale Republik zu begründen. Es ist der einzige Weg nach vorn.«

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ireland: “Political” arrests used to intimidate water charge protesters

Jobstown protest against water charges
A series of coordinated early morning police raids in south-west Dublin have seen at least seventeen people – including several left-wing politicians – arrested for attending a peaceful rally against water charges last November, amid claims of “political policing” and intimidation.

Shortly before 7am on Monday February 9, six police arrested Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) TD and Socialist Party member Paul Murphy at his home while he was still in his pyjamas, having breakfast with his children.

Two AAA councillors on South Dublin Council – Mick Murphy and Kieran Mahon – were also arrested in separate raids the same morning, as was Scott Masterson from socialist republican group Éirigí. They were held for several hours, questioned, and then released without charge.

The following morning, ten police burst into the home of a 16 year old boy, arresting him as he got dressed for school. Another three people were arrested by the same morning, and then later released, amid ominous warnings that another 40 people were going to be arrested.

The pattern was repeated again on February 11 and 12, with four arrests on Wednesday morning, and five on Thursday, including boys aged only 14 and 15. All were released without charge, but their files have been sent to the Department of Public Prosecution, and charges are expected at a later date.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sinn Féin leader calls for an Irish left coalition to end austerity

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams with SYRIZA's Alexis Tsipras
Writing in the wake of SYRIZA’s historic win in the Greek elections on January 25, Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has called for formal discussions to begin on building an Irish Left coalition to cohere an anti-austerity government in the South.

Writing in the February edition of republican newspaper An Phoblacht, Kearney called on the progressive and republican left to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the upheaval in Irish politics in recent years, and build a credible political alternative to challenge the dominance of conservative politics in Ireland.

“As new international political forces move towards governmental power, formal political discussion should commence in Ireland on how to forge consensus between Sinn Féin, progressive independents, the trade union movement, grassroots communities, and the non-sectarian Left,” Kearney argued.

“That process should concentrate on building durable, strategic, cross-sectoral, cross-community and political alliances North and South.”

“This is the time for serious political discussion among progressive Irish political, community and trade union activists on the ideas and strategies which will ensure the future election of a Left coalition in the South dedicated to establishing a new national Republic.”

“It is the only way forward.“

Saturday, January 31, 2015

İspanyol Baskısına Karşı Devasa Bask Gösterileri

İsyandan, 31 Ocak 2015 Cumartesi 

Duroyan Fertl

İspanya devletinin Bask tutsaklara karşı işlediği insan hakları ihlâllerini protesto için 10 Ocak’ta Bilbao’da bir yürüyüş gerçekleşti.


Bask Ülkesi’ndeki yurttaşlık hakları savunucuları ve avukatlar da İspanya devletinin sürdürdüğü baskılara karşı 17 Ocak’ta, bir Bask şehri olan Donostia’da, yaklaşık 33,000 kişinin katıldığı bir protesto yürüyüşü gerçekleştirdi.

Üzerinde “İnsan Hakları, Çözüm, Barış” yazılı büyük bir pankartın altında yürüyen eylem kitlesi, bağımsızlık yanlısı Bask sol koalisyon EH Bildu ile sendika üyeleri ve Bask siyasi tutsakları destekleyenleri de barındırıyordu.

Kitlesel gösteri, 12 Ocak tarihinde Bask Ülkesi ile Nafaroa ve Madrid’de Guardia Civil (İspanya’nın oldukça siyasileşmiş jandarması) tarafından gerçekleştirilen tutuklamalara bir tepkiydi.

12 Bask avukatın yanı sıra yasaklanan tutsak dayanışma örgütü Herrira’yla bağlantılı olduğu iddia edilen dört kişi daha tutuklandı. Polis, Bilbao’daki sol-milliyetçi Bask sendikası Milliyetçi İşçiler Komitesi’nin (LAB) ofisleri de dahil olmak üzere, İspanya genelinde bina aramaları yaptı. Tutsak hakları kampanyalarından toplanan 90,000 Avro üzerindeki yasal bağışa el konuldu.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Euskal Herria: Huge rallies protest Spanish state repression

33,000 march for peace and civil liberties in Donostia
On January 17, 33,000 people marched through the Basque city of Donostia (San Sebastián) to protest ongoing Spanish state repression against independence and civil rights activists and lawyers in the Basque Country.

Marching under a large banner that read "Human Rights, Resolution, Peace," the demonstration was made up of members of the Basque pro-independence left coalition EH Bildu, various trade unions and supporters of Basque political prisoners.

The mass protest was a response to a series of arrests carried out by the Guardia Civil (Spain’s heavily politicised military police) on Monday January 12 throughout the Basque Country, in Nafarroa and in Madrid.

Early in the morning, twelve Basque lawyers were arrested, as were four people allegedly linked to the banned prisoners’ support organisation Herrira. Police searched a number of premises across Spain, including those of the left-nationalist Basque trade union LAB in Bilbao, and over 90,000 euros in legal donations was confiscated.

Those detained were charged with tax fraud, money laundering and membership of a terrorist organisation. Thirteen of those arrested were soon released on bail, but have been forbidden from leaving the country, or communicating with prisoners.

The Interior Ministry has also accused them of passing instructions from the armed separatist group ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna – “Basque Homeland and Freedom”) to imprisoned members of the organisation.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Germany: anti-Islamic PEGIDA rally draws 25,000 but is outnumbered by counter-protests

PEGIDA protesters in Dresden
Since October last year, Germany has become increasingly polarised, as weekly marches by a new right-wing movement opposed to a perceived “Islamisation” of Europe continue to grow by their thousands – a growth now matched by counter-protests nationwide.

The organisation – PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes or “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident”) – was founded in October after an anti-Islam march in Dresden organised by 41-year-old Lutz Bachmann through Facebook.

While the first march only attracted three hundred supporters, PEGIDA has held rallies in Dresden every Monday since, with numbers swelling to 18,000 on January 5. On January 12, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, they reached a record 25,000.

The regularity of the protests is a conscious appropriation of the “Monday demonstrations” of the pro-democracy movement in the former East Germany in 1989, which also grew rapidly and eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the East German government.

As well as attracting a variety of conservative and islamophobic elements of German society, PEGIDA also operates as an umbrella for a number of right-wing groups, including the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), as well as other neo-Nazi groups and right-wing football hooligans.

While PEGIDA claims not to be racist or right wing, Ralf Jäger, SPD interior minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, has dubbed the protesters “neo-Nazis in pinstripes", and the protests are widely viewed as thinly-concealed expressions of blatant xenophobia.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Outcry at plans to make a comedy about Irish Famine

Irish Famine Memorial in Dublin
On 30 December, the Irish Times set off waves of outrage and disbelief when it reported that British TV station Channel 4 was commissioning a comedy set to the backdrop of the Irish Famine.

The Famine (or An Gorta Mór, as it is known in Irish), lasted from 1845 until 1852, and saw well over one million people in Ireland die from starvation and disease.

Many of them were buried without coffins, in mass pauper graves; others were left where they dropped for fear of contagion, their mouths green from the grass they ate in desperation to stay alive.

For many that died, their names and deaths were not recorded; their memory lost forever. A further one and a half million emigrated during the Famine to places like Boston, New York, Liverpool and Australia.

The Irish population dropped by 30 percent in six short years, and the political and cultural impact of the Famine can still be felt to this day. So too can the demographic impact – the Irish population has never properly recovered from the impact of the Famine, and is still lower than pre-Famine levels.

A petition calling on Channel 4 to not make the show has already reached close to 40,000 signatures.