Check out this video of two CPB members Andrew Murray and Nick Wright being interviewed by George Galloway on Russia Today. http://rt.com/shows/sputnik/labour-party-trade-union-173/
By James Thompson
HOUSTON – A very diverse group of Houston activists assembled in front of Texas U.S. Sentor Ted Cruz’ high-rise condo hacienda on March 8, 2014 to express their opposition to his right wing agenda. About 30 activists stood on the sidewalk in front of the Royalton at River Oaks at 3333 Allen Parkway and chanted and held signs which proclaimed “Ted Cruz is part of the problem,” “Ted Cruz is anti-union,” and many other slogans. Young and old, black and white and brown, men and women all participated in a lively demonstration to exercise their rights to Free Speech.
A heckler rode by on a bicycle and stopped to shout at the demonstrators. Some of the demonstrators went out courageously in the middle of a very busy street to confront this man. The men confronting the heckler included Juan of the Latin American Organization for Immigrant Rights and a member of the Houston Peace and Justice Coalition. The confrontation was peaceful and no one was hurt.
Dr. David Smith of the Progressive Workers Organizing Committee said while organizing the demonstration “Cruz has been leading the opposition to comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, so all of us should be proud to lead the opposition to Cruz.” James Harrington of the Houston Communist Party said that “Cruz is a disgrace to Texas. All working people in Texas should reject his anti-worker and pro-wealthy stance.”
The demonstration was called by and organized by the Progressive Workers Organizing Committee, and Latin American Organization for Immigrant Rights. It was endorsed by the Houston Communist Party, Houston Peace Council, Communist Party USA – Houston and People before Profits. Participants included working people, retirees, students and union members.
Cruz’ luxurious condo is located in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston. River Oaks is the neighborhood of the wealthiest plutocrats in Houston. A quick check on the internet revealed that condos in Cruz’ residence range from one million dollars, that’s right $1,000,000 on up. It dramatizes Cruz’ arrogance and disdain for working people who could hardly afford such luxurious digs. It gives one pause to consider what Cruz must have done to amass the kind of money to propel him into this high rise condo so that he can look down on the working people of Houston.
You can watch a YouTube video of the demonstration at http://youtu.be/UyfP8sVKbXQ .
Events and Hours
Center for Marxist Education | 550 Mass Ave, Cambridge
An Evening with Grover Furr
Saturday, March 8th – 6:00 PM
Distinguished educator and author Professor Grover Furr will discuss his research into the Stalin-era and the challenge that recent scholarship poses to the Cold-War and anti-communist interpretations of Soviet History.
China Discussion Group – Film Screening: Manufactured Landscapes
Thursday, March 13th – 7-8:30 PM
Modern China is facing serious environmental problems created during the drive for rapid industrialization. The beautifully filmed Manufactured Landscapes documents the industrial landscapes and environmental impacts of the Three Gorges Dam, a shipyard, and the city of Shanghai in China as well as oil tankers from Bangladesh. The documentary was made by renowned filmmaker Edward Burtynsky. We will be following the film with a discussion of changes in China’s environmental policies, based on its commitment in 2007 to using environmentally as well as socially sustainable practices to meet human needs.
Sunday Film & Discussion Night
Hosted by Richard Pendleton
Please join us on the following Sundays for showing of various movies and documentaries followed by a discussion on the evening’s topic
Sunday, March 16th – 6PM
This taboo-breaking film is based on Manijeh Hekmat’s long fieldwork among women prisoners in Iran. She depicts the lives of Iran’s lost generation in the two decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, using the claustrophobic life of women behind bars as a metaphor for the entire society.
Her protagonist, Mitra, is in prison for killing her violent stepfather. On the eve of a prison riot she confronts Tahereh, the new warden, whose dogmatic views she challenges fearlessly. Over the course of the next 20 years, Tahereh’s attitude toward her prisoners changes and softens, which reflects the country’s shifting political stance. Eventually Mitra, aged and exhausted, is finally released, but Tahereh is now more like a prisoner herself. (Farsi with English subtitles, 2013) 106 minutes.
SALT OF THIS SEA
Sunday, March 30th – 6:00 PM
An urgent and devastating portrait of life in Palestine, Salt of This Sea is essential viewing. Sixty years after her grandparents exile from Jaffa, Soraya (Suheir Hammad) leaves Brooklyn to live in her homeland. Discovering that her family’s bank account was frozen after the Arab- Israeli way, she decides to leave Brooklyn for her homeland, determined to reclaim her birthright, through whatever means necessary. With the help of her disillusioned lover Emad (Saleh Bakri) and his filmmaker pal Marwan (Riyad Ideis), they plan on one big heist to settle the historical debt. Driving through the countryside like an Arab (and pacifist) Bonnie and Clyde, Soraya and Emad discover their roots while rejecting their status as exiles. Hammad and Bakri attack their roles with feral intensity, electrifying the screen. The first fiction feature of Palestinian-American director Annemarie Jacir, and the first feature film from Palestine by a female director, it is an intimate, urgent and rousing piece of political filmmaking. (English, 2011) 105 minutes.
EXTRA MOVIE NIGHT!
Hosted by Sandy Eaton. Sandy is a retired nurse who is still tirelessly organizing with Massachusetts Nurses Association and is an advocate for things like Single Payer and the Robin Hood Tax. Sandy is also a member of CCDS and has been a long time friend of the Center. Join Sandy and the CME for a discussion of The Healthcare Movie followed by a discussion on the state of the healthcare system today.
The Healthcare Movie
Sunday, March 23rd 6 PM
Feature length film narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. The issue of healthcare in America goes far beyond a line in the budget. It reaches into the center of the American soul and answers the question, “How in the world do we want to treat each other?”
In Canada, healthcare is regarded as a social service, and treated as a responsibility of the government, to be provided to every citizen. Not so in the United States. In America, health care is regarded as a profit-making commodity, to be operated for the financial gain of insurance and pharmaceutical companies, doctors and hospitals. This documentary considers how it came to be that the two systems ended up in such different places.. It explores the health care system in Canada: how it came to be, how it works for ordinary Canadians, how it is paid for, and how it compares to its American counterpart.
More info on the movie here: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Healthcare-Movie/312652158857
SOLEDAD BROTHER and BLACK AGAINST EMPIRE: A Discussion of Black Panther Legacies
Wednesday, March 26th 6:30 PM
Join us for an open discussion of George Jackson’s powerful and popular book, SOLEDAD BROTHER, as well as selections of Bloom and Martin’s new study of the Black Panther Party, BLACK AGAINST EMPIRE. Together we will be working to draw out the powerful legacies and lessons, insights and inspirations of the these home-grown revolutionary anti-imperialists. Discussion led by Joe Ramsey.
“Walking with the Comrades….Is the Torch Passing?”
A discussion of the Maoist Movement in South Asia
Saturday, March 29th 3-5 PM
Join us at the CME for a Saturday discussion –kicked off by radical post-colonialism scholar John Maerhofer–on the state of the Maoist movement in South Asia, and what these movements mean for anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles across the world.
As a launching point, participants are encouraged to read Arundhati Roy’s essay “Walking with the Comrades” as well as Robert Weil’s article “Is the Torch Passing?”
Victor Serge: On the Borders of Victory and Defeat
Saturday, April 5th 4-6 PM
Communist historian Doug Enaa Greene will lecture on the activist, historian and novelist Victor Serge (1890-1947) at the Center for Marxist Education. Serge was originally an anarchist in his youth, who became a communist after 1917, an ally of Leon Trotsky and a heterodox Marxist. Victor Serge’s many works chronicle, in eloquent and brutal honesty, the revolutionary experience of his generation.
Bolshevism:How the Party was Built – A Talk with Steve Iverson
Saturday, April 19th 3-5 PM
100 years ago, Europe was beset by WWI. Just 3 years later, Lenin’s Bolshevik Party led workers to power in Russia. How did a party of only 8,000 members in February 1917 grow to a quarter of a million in less than nine months, and win the majority of workers, peasants, and soldiers to take power in a virtually bloodless October Revolution? How was this party constructed? How were its members educated and developed? How did it weather repression and the ebbs and flows of the struggle? What practical lessons can 21st-century socialists gain from a careful study of Bolshevism?
Monday – 4pm to 8pm
Tuesday – 4pm – 8pm
Wednesday 4pm – 8pm
Thursday 6pm – 8pm
For updated information on hours and events please follow us on facebook at:
7 March 2014
It is a hundred and four years since the International Women’s Day is being observed all over the world. The day, which started as a day of raising the demands of working women, has now become International Women’s Day, focusing on the demands of women as a whole.
It is also to be noted that, as on other occasions nowadays, this day of struggle is being commercially exploited by vested interests. At the same time this is also utilised to divert the attention from the realities – the class exploitation and oppression being perpetrated against women.
The call for the observance of the day internationally had come from Clara Zetkin, a well known Socialist leader from Germany. It was aimed at highlighting the contributions of women and also as an occasion to press for the demands of women. It was sought to be an opportunity for women workers and other women to strengthen the struggle against the existing exploitative system and to move towards a progressive, socialist society!
It is to be noted that initially March 19 was decided as the date for holding the first International Women’s Day. This day was chosen as it was on this day in 1848 that intense working class struggles broke out in Prussia forcing the King to agree in principle, to universal suffrage. Women’s Day on 19th March 2011 received tremendous response from women in several countries in Europe. The day was observed demanding women’s right to work, to equal wages, to vote, to hold public office and to end other forms of discrimination. In 1913, the observance of International Women’s Day was shifted to March 8, the day when women garment workers in New York went on strike in 1857.
It is interesting that the Russian Revolution also started off with huge demonstrations on International Women’s Day on 1917 with thousands of working class women marching in the cold snow covered streets of St Petersburg demanding bread for their hungry children and the return of their men from the War.
If we look into the demands raised on the occasion of International Women’s Day in 1911 and the demands being raised by women today, we can see that the situation has not changed much. Even more than a hundred years later, in 2014, the demands are almost the same as in 1911.
CITU and Women Workers
CITU can be proud of the fact that it was the first among the central trade unions, to organise a national level Working Women’s Convention in April 1979 and to form an All India Coordination Committee of Working Women (AICCWW). This sub-committee of CITU was formed, fully understanding the necessity of taking a new initiative to correct the imbalance in the trade union movement and also rectify many prejudices that existed.
Explaining the background of formation of AICCWW, founder President of CITU, Com. B.T. Ranadive said – ‘The CITU had to take the decision to call a special conference because it was found that the grievances of working women were unattended; the government was indifferent; the employers were hostile; and even the trade unions were not very enthusiastic about their demands. In the so many strikes that the working class fought there were very few instances when the special demands of the working women were given prominence.
It was also found that women, even in industries and occupations where they formed a sizeable section were hardly represented in the leading bodies of the union.
This state of affairs was partly due to the disabilities, which women suffer from in a society like the Indian society. The inferior status assigned to women in both Hindu & Muslim communities is known to all. That discrimination doggedly pursues the working women and it is the elementary duty of the trade unions to fight against it. We cannot say that our workers and some of our trade union leaders are free from this discriminatory outlook towards women.’ (Presidential Address – 4th All India Conference of CITU)
It is gratifying now to find that many of the Central Trade Unions in the country and also various independent national federations have formed working women’s committees. Various problems of working women at their place of work and other issues have come to the fore during this period.
Another achievement during this period has been unionisation of large number of women workers in various sectors – unorganised, organised and a large chunk of exploited working women in various schemes of the central and state governments. Militant struggles have been conducted by these women workers, who were able to snatch some gains from the unwilling hands of employers and the government.
Miles to go
CITU is also proud of the fact that it has been able to mobilise lakhs of women workers under its banner, conduct struggles and develop a good number of women workers as active cadres and leaders of the organisation.
But, CITU is also aware of the limitations of the gains achieved and that it has miles and miles to go to achieve its aims and objectives outlined on various occasions since 1979.
The 14th All India Conference in April 2013 and the 10th All India Convention of AICCWW in September – October 2013 critically analysed the achievements and also the tasks ahead. Several shortcomings that need to be overcome urgently have been noted.
On the whole, the involvement and the guiding role of CITU committees at various levels need further strengthening. Issues of working women need to be on the top of the agendas for unions and federations in which there are women workers in considerable numbers.
It was with this aim that a national workshop involving central and state leaderships of CITU and the members of AICCWW was held a few days ahead of the International Women’s Day, in which serious discussions were held and decisions taken, as called for by the All India Conference of CITU.
CITU expects that these decisions will pave the way for strengthening the women workers initiatives, improving their involvement in trade union activities and moving them further up on the ladder to leadership positions in the unions and committees.
AICCWW will also be working with working women’s sub-committees of fraternal organisations in strengthening the class oriented functioning among women workers.
8th March 2014
CITU has called upon all its affiliates to organise meetings, demonstrations, dharnas, deputations etc on the occasion of International Women’s Day this year, focusing on some important demands. It has called upon all its committees and affiliated unions to ensure that these programmes involve both men and women in large numbers. The issues being raised cannot be considered as women’s issues alone and unless these are addressed, the entire society and the working class in particular will continue to suffer.
Equality in all Aspects
One of the issues to be focused is equality in all aspects. This issue is not confined to equal wages for equal work, though this is a very important demand of women workers. Equal status to women is today being denied in every aspect of life. Discrimination begins from the birth of a girl child and goes on in education, employment, wages, promotion opportunities, social life and in the political sphere.
As far as wages are concerned a recent study on Gender Pay Gap in the formal sector 2006-13 gives an idea about the Indian situation. “According to the report the gender gap in India in 2013 increased with age, higher education and qualifications. Women with education of below 10th class earned 9.37% less than men while women with professional qualification like CA/CS/ICWA or equivalent earn 44.25% less than men! Women with work experience of 16 to 30 years earned 24.96% less than men whereas women with work experience of 31 years or more earned 78.23% less than men!”
If this is the situation in the formal sector, the situation in the informal sector is worse. “According to the data provided by the Labour Bureau in April 2013, the gap between the wages of men and women in some activities has widened in the last decade. The data show that while men were paid Rs.212 a day for ploughing women were paid Rs.123; for sowing men were paid Rs.185 and women Rs.148; for harvesting the wages were Rs.179 for men and Rs.149 for women. The wages paid for well digging for men were Rs.254 whereas they were a mere Rs.145 for women. In case of unskilled non agricultural work the wages were Rs.179 for men and Rs.135 for women.” (Documents of 10th Convention of AICCWW)
It is very important that the trade unions take up these issues very seriously and ensure equality in all aspects of life.
Safety and Violence
There has been a horrendous increase in violence against women. Shocking incidents of violence are reported almost every hour from different parts of the country.
The report adopted in the 10th convention of AICCWW noted “one third of all women are reported to be victims of sexual or physical violence. 38% female murder victims are killed by intimate partners. Every three minutes, a crime is committed against a woman; every nine minutes, a woman suffers cruelty from her husband or relative; every twenty-nine minutes, a woman is raped; and every seventy seven minutes, a dowry death takes place in the county. According to the report of the National Crime Records Bureau released in 2013 there was 902% increase in cases of rape between 1971 and 2012. In 2010, the number of rapes, molestations, harassment and abductions of women in India, was more than 2.13 lakhs, i.e. 585 cases every day. This is most certainly only a fraction of the real number, because women often do not report these crimes and prefer to suffer in silence. These shocking statistics mirror the status of women in our country.”
The neo liberal policies of globalisation, and commercialisation and commodification of women aggravate the violence. Added to this general situation is the sexual harassment, which the women workers face not only at the workplace but also during their travel etc.
Though the much delayed legislation on sexual harassment of women at work places has been enacted, there are several deficiencies in this legislation. This harassment, especially at work places, can be resisted only when the trade union leadership and workers as a whole are sensitised on the necessity of collective intervention. This is where much improvement has to take place.
Reservation in Legislatures
CITU is again focusing on the issue of women’s reservation in legislatures. The bill for 33% reservation for women in legislatures which was adopted with much fanfare in the Rajya Sabha has not been taken up in the Lok Sabha for `want of consensus’ – a consensus which is not going to happen. This issue exposes the lack of commitment of the leading political parties in the country. It is a fact that only the Left parties and a few of the regional parties are in favour of enacting this bill and many others only offer lip service to it.
The CITU calls upon all the unions to take up these important issues during the campaign and observance of International Women’s Day this year. CITU also calls upon all its committees and affiliated unions to take up continuous activities for the implementation of the organisational tasks identified by the 14th All India Conference and the 10th All India Convention of Working Women.
Let us renew our commitment to the struggle for women’s rights, and for the demands and rights of working women, so that we can strengthen the trade union and working class movement, and take it forward in the struggle for a society free from exploitation.
7 March 2014
Athens, March 6th 2014
On the occasion of the International Working Women’s Day, the Secretariat of the WFTU salutes the working women and expresses its solidarity to their everyday struggles for the improvement of their living and working conditions.
The class-oriented trade union movement internationally, the affiliates and friends of the WFTU have been engaged in national efforts to strengthen the working women’s movement. More women’s committees have been established within the structures of the trade unions in the spirit of the resolutions of the 16th World Trade Union Congress.
According to the Action Plan approved at the 2014 Presidential Council Session in Rome, Italy on February 14-15th, the WFTU has set forth for the 1st World Congress for Working Women to take place by the end of 2014.
We should join these efforts in a World Congress, discuss the difficulties faced, debate on the developments in the workers movement, form a joint platform of demands and coordinate our struggle for the strengthening of the working women’s movement internationally, to lay the ground for further breakthroughs in their rights and conquests.
For the class-oriented trade union movement, for the WFTU, the struggle against the dual exploitation of the working women and the anti-labor reforms that add further burden to them and for the satisfaction of the contemporary needs of the working women have always been a priority.
WFTU will intensify its struggle:
For full employment, well-paid jobs with quality and full respect for labor rights.
For the fostering of equitable access to education, the development of upgrading and professional training.
To develop trade union training programs on gender equality in the workplace.
To inform working women about the laws and international conventions related to gender, to explain to them about their legal rights and to help them ensure their fulfillment, including legal advice in case of them presenting demands against violations of the worker’s rights and for the supervision of the ILO Conventions.
To promote the trade unions’ ability of including the working women and the gender issue in the collective bargaining process and the policies of trade union management.
To promote the ratification and application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and those International Conventions related to gender equality. (Conventions 100, 111, 156, 183 and others).
To support the adoption of the International Conventions for the protection of household workers and to promote its ratification. To promote domestic legislations against gender discrimination and to develop actions geared towards confronting inequalities. To promote measures that might help all workers (women and men) balance labor and family responsibilities and promote a more equitable share of tasks.
To demand that their governments make efforts to offer more quality services in day-care centers and care for the elderly.
To develop campaigns of consciousness, defense and promotion of the advantages of gender equality in the world of labor within the framework of May Day activities, the International Women’s Day, as in other important events and Conferences.
To develop campaigns for equal work-equal pay at the workplaces and in society.
To develop efforts geared towards identifying sexual harassment, gender violence and to seek legislation on these issues in each country.
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, March 02, 2014
According to the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as anotherflowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” ( After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility, NYTimes.com, March 1, 2014, emphasis added)
“Flowering Democracy, Revolution”? The grim realities are otherwise. What is a stake is a US-EU-NATO sponsored coup d’Etat in blatant violation of international law.
The forbidden truth is that the West has engineered –through a carefully staged covert operation– the formation of a proxy regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.
Confirmed by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, key organizations in the Ukraine including the Neo-Nazi party Svoboda were generously supported by Washington: “We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals. … We will continue to promote Ukraine to the future it deserves.”
The Western media has casually avoided to analyze the composition and ideological underpinnings of the government coalition. The word “Neo-Nazi” is a taboo. It has been excluded from the dictionary of mainstream media commentary. It will not appear in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post or The Independent. Journalists have been instructed not to use the term “Neo-Nazi” to designate Svoboda and the Right Sector.
Composition of the Coalition Government
We are not dealing with a transitional government in which Neo-Nazi elements integrate the fringe of the coalition, formally led by the Fatherland party.
The Cabinet is not only integrated by the Svoboda and Right Sector (not to mention former members of defunct fascist UNA-UNSO), the two main Neo-Nazi entities have been entrusted with key positions which grant them de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police, Justice and National Security.
While Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party controls the majority of portfolios and Svoboda Neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok was not granted a major cabinet post (apparently at the request of assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland), members of Svoboda and the Right Sector occupy key positions in the areas of Defense, Law Enforcement, Education and Economic Affairs.
Andriy Parubiy [right] co-founder of the Neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) was appointed Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU). (Рада національної безпеки і оборони України), a key position which overseas the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. The RNBOU is central decision-making body. While it is formally headed by the president, it is run by the Secretariat with a staff of 180 people including defense, intelligence and national security experts.
Parubiy was one of the main leaders behind the Orange Revolution in 2004. His organization was funded by the West. He is referred to by the Western media as the “kommandant” of the EuroMaidan movement. Andriy Parubiy together with party leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a follower of Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera, who collaborated in the mass murderer of Jews and Poles during World War II.
In turn, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in the parliament, has been appointed Parubiy’s deputy Secretary of the RNBOU.
Yarosh was the leader of the Brown Shirt Neo-Nazi paramilitary during the EuroMaidan “protest” movement. He has called for disbanding the Party of the regions and the Communist Party.
The Neo Nazi party also controls the judicial process with the appointment of Oleh Makhnitsky of the Svoboda party to the position of prosecutor-general of Ukraine. What kind of justice will prevail with a reknown Neo-Nazi in charge of the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine?
Cabinet positions were also allocated to former members of the Neo-Nazi fringe organizationUkrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO):
“Tetyana Chernovol, portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-Semitic UNA-UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulatov,known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports.
Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, charged with purging followers of President Yanukovych from government and public life. (See Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education, Global Research, March 02, 2014
The Lustration Committee is to organize the Neo-Nazi witch-hunt against all opponents of the new Neo-Nazi regime. The targets of the lustration campaign are people in positions of authority within the civil service, regional and municipal governments, education, research, etc. The term lustration refers to the “mass disqualification” of people associated with the former government. It also has racial overtones. It will in all likelihood be directed against Communists, Russians and members of the Jewish community.
It is important to reflect on the fact that the West, formally committed to democratic values, has not only spearheaded the demise of an elected president, it has instated a political regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.
This is a proxy government which enables the US, NATO and the EU to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and dismantle its bilateral relations with the Russian Federation. It should be understood, however, that the Neo-Nazis do not ultimately call the shots. The composition of the Cabinet broadly coincides with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland ” recommendations” contained in the leaked telephone call to the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Washington has chosen to spearhead Neo-Nazis into positions of authority. Under a “regime of indirect rule”, however, they take their orders on crucial military and foreign policy issues –including the deployment of troops directed against the Russian federation– from the the US State Department, the Pentagon and NATO.
The World is at a dangerous crossroads: The structures and composition of this proxy government installed by the West do not favor dialogue with the Russian government and military.
A scenario of military escalation leading to confrontation of Russia and NATO is a distinct possibility. The Ukraine’s National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU) which is controlled by Neo-Nazis plays a central role in military affairs. In the confrontation with Moscow, decisions taken by the RNBOU headed by Neo-Nazi Parubiy and his brown Shirt deputy Dmytro Yarosh –in consultation with Washington and Brussels– could potentially have devastating consequences.
However, it goes without saying that “support” to the formation of a Neo-Nazi government does not in any way imply the development of “fascist tendencies” within the White House, the State Department and the US Congress.
“The flowering of democracy” in Ukraine –to use the words of the New York Times– is endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. It’s a bipartisan project. Lest we forget, Senator John McCain is a firm supporter and friend of Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok.
March 5, 2014 (140305)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
Both the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have just documented
extensive killings of civilians as well as other abuses during the
last two months of fighting in South Sudan. And incidents of
violence are continuing despite a formal ceasefire agreed with
regional negotiators. While negotiations as well as development of
plans for more effective ceasefire monitoring continue, the
prospectives for sustainable peace still seem remote. Meanwhile,
international agencies and civil society continue efforts to reduce
violence and address immediate humanitarian needs.
For a version of this Bulletin in html format, more suitable for
printing, go to http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/sud1403.php , and
click on “format for print or mobile.”
This AfricaFocus Bulletin focuses on the situation on the ground,
which must not be forgotten despite the fall in international media
attention. Almost all analysts are agreed that sustainable
solutions require going beyond response to immediate crisis and
negotiations which to date have involved only the warring parties,
not including South Sudanese civil society. But focusing on saving
lives now and on addressing the long-term issues should be
complementary, not exclusive alternatives.
For articles focusing on background analysis, see in particular
“South Sudan: Reflections on Crisis,” January 13, 2014
and the recent article by Mahmood Mamdani, “South Sudan: No power-
sharing without political reform,” at
http://www.codesria.org/spip.php?article1959 (originally published
in New Vision, Feb. 16, 2014).
Also of interest:
United Nations Mission in South Sudan
Includes link to “Interim Report on Human Rights,” covering 15
December 2013 to 31 January 2014
“South Sudan: U.N. Report On South Sudan Paints Grim Picture”
InterPress Service, 26 February 2014
“Medical care under fire in South Sudan”
Doctors without Borders, 26 February 2014
U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports, which provide detailed
and substantive country-by-country coverage [except, ironically,
for the United States itself, for which the State Department has no
jurisdiction], were just released for 2013.
Hearings before U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health,
Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Feb 26, 2014
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on South Sudan, visit
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++
South Sudan: War Crimes by Both Sides
Commanders Need to Halt Abuses; African Union Should Begin Inquiry
February 26, 2014
Human Rights Watch
(Nairobi) – Both pro and antigovernment armed forces are
responsible for serious abuses that may amount to war crimes in two
key oil hubs in South Sudan during recent fighting, Human Rights
Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch researchers visited Malakal and Bentiu, the
capitals of two oil producing states, between January 29 and
February 14, 2014. Researchers found that armed forces from both
sides have extensively looted and destroyed civilian property,
including desperately needed aid facilities, targeted civilians,
and carried out extrajudicial executions, often based on ethnicity.
“The wanton destruction and violence against civilians in this
conflict is shocking,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at
Human Rights Watch. “Both sides need to stop their forces from
committing abuses and hold those who have responsible for their
actions, and the African Union (AU) should accelerate its long
Since late December 2013 Human Rights Watch researchers have
investigated allegations of serious abuses and violations of
international humanitarian law in Juba, Bor, Bentiu, and Malakal.
Researchers interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses of the
fighting and attacks, and investigated sites of attacks in all
locations where security permitted access.
The towns of Malakal and Bentiu are now extensively destroyed and
mostly empty because terrified residents fled to United Nations
(UN) camps and surrounding rural areas. Threat of further attacks
and targeting of civilians based on ethnicity prevent the vast
majority from returning. Both towns are important political and
economic hubs, where residents from many ethnicities have lived
Despite an agreement on January 23, 2014, to end the hostilities,
and signed on by both the government and antigovernment forces, now
known as SPLA-in-Opposition, there have been new attacks by both
sides. Credible reports indicate that government forces, in some
cases supported by the Ugandan military, attacked Leer, Gatdiang,
and other locations in Unity state in early February.
On February 18 opposition forces, including the so-called white
army of armed Nuer fighters, attacked Malakal. Human Rights Watch
has also received credible reports that on February 19 opposition
forces killed civilians at the Malakal hospital, and that fighting
both near and inside the UN camp in Malakal resulted in additional
A political dispute between President Salva Kiir, from the Dinka
ethnicity, and former Vice President Riek Machar, from the Nuer
ethnicity, is behind the conflict. The fighting began when members
of the South Sudanese presidential guard clashed in Juba, the
country’s capital, on December 15, 2013. President Kiir said the
fighting was a coup attempt by Machar and his allies, which Machar
has denied. Since December 15, the conflict has spread to other
towns and villages in Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei states.
In any armed conflict, murder, attacks directed at civilians,
civilian property – including objects used for humanitarian relief
– and pillage are prohibited and constitute war crimes. A clear
pattern of reprisal killings based on ethnicity, massive
destruction, and widespread looting has emerged in this conflict,
Human Rights Watch said, based on its research.
In Juba, Human Rights Watch researchers found that Dinka members of
South Sudan’s security forces carried out widespread killings and
mass arrests of Nuer soldiers and civilians during the first week
of the crisis. Human Rights Watch has also documented killings of
Dinka civilians in the town of Bor, where opposition forces –
including the Nuer “white army” fighters – destroyed and looted
markets and homes, and killed civilians hiding in their homes or
other buildings. As elsewhere in South Sudan, the attacking Nuer
youths have cited revenge for the killing of Nuer in Juba as a
In Bentiu and the adjacent town of Rubkona, a majority ethnic Nuer
area, there was fighting between pro and antigovernment members of
the country’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) on December 20
and 21. Opposition forces held the towns until January 10, 2014.
Human Rights Watch received reports that government forces,
consisting of pro-government SPLA and Sudanese rebel Justice and
Equality Movement (JEM) fighters, extensively looted shops, homes,
markets, and offices of aid agencies. Large areas of Bentiu and
most of Rubkona were burned during the recapture of the towns.
Although most civilians fled their homes ahead of the arrival of
the government forces, government soldiers shot and killed
civilians who remained, residents said. Human Rights Watch also
received reports that government forces burned villages in Guit
county as they pursued the opposition forces in the following days.
When opposition forces were in control, the antigovernment
soldiers, together with police and civilians, looted Bentiu and
Rubkona, including before fleeing the towns on and in the days
before January 10. As antigovernment soldiers and civilians fled
into rural areas, the soldiers also stole precious food from
Researchers also found that prior to the first clash in December
2013, ethnic Nuer – including members of government security
personnel – had attacked ethnic Dinka living in Bentiu and Rubkona,
including targeted killings.
In Malakal, an ethnically diverse town of mainly Shilluk, Nuer, and
Dinka communities, conflict erupted on December 24 when pro and
antigovernment forces clashed at SPLA barracks, the airport, and
key locations in town. The government recaptured the town on
December 27, but it changed hands again on January 14, 2014,
January 20, and most recently on February 18, following a third
attack by opposition forces.
The town has been extensively burned and looted, and almost all
civilians have fled to villages, churches, the hospital, or the UN
compound north of the town.
Human Rights Watch found that each side, when in effective control
of the town, attacked civilians, destroyed and looted civilian
property – including food and humanitarian aid – and targeted
people based on their ethnicity. During a week in January when the
opposition effectively controlled Malakal, for example, “white
army” Nuer fighters went house to house looting and robbing
residents at gunpoint, killing some in cold blood.
While government forces were in control of Malakal from January 20
through mid-February, soldiers looted and burned civilian
properties and carried out targeted killings of civilian ethnic
Nuer men, including inside the Malakal teaching hospital, witnesses
and family members told Human Rights Watch.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) provided safe haven for tens
of thousands of civilians – more than 27,000 in Malakal and more
than 7,000 in Bentiu at the height of the conflict – and in some
cases transported residents to safety, almost certainly saving
“The conflict in South Sudan is far from over, with civilians still
at risk of further abuse even inside UN compounds,” Bekele said.
“Military commanders from both sides have an obligation to
immediately and unequivocally order their forces to stop attacking
civilians and civilian property, and the commanders need to hold
abusive soldiers to account.”
A thorough and impartial investigation into human rights abuses
during this conflict is a necessary first step to secure justice
for victims and to respond to widespread anger, in particular
resulting from the ethnic targeted killings of civilians.
Unaddressed, these abuses risk leading to further violence, Human
Rights Watch said.
On February 21 the UN mission released its interim report on human
rights abuses during the conflict, detailing abuses by both sides.
The report is a positive step and should be followed by more
frequent public reporting in an effort to prevent further abuses by
On December 30, 2013, the AU Peace and Security Council called for
an AU commission of inquiry to report by March 30, 2014, on human
rights violations and other abuses during the conflict. Despite the
urgency of this task, the commission has yet to be appointed.
“The start of the AU’s promised investigation is long overdue,”
Bekele said. “It is urgently needed, both to prevent further abuses
and as a crucial step in the path to lasting peace.”
For further details, please see below.
Bentiu and Rubkona
Bentiu and neighboring Rubkona are a gateway to key oil fields,
with a population largely of ethnic Nuer. On December 21, 2013,
following skirmishes between pro and antigovernment forces at army
barracks, General James Koang, the head of the SPLA’s Division 4,
defected and declared himself the military governor of Unity state.
His forces exercised control over the towns until January 10, 2014,
when government forces attacked and recaptured them.
During the period when Koang’s forces were in control, opposition
soldiers loyal to him, as well as police and civilians, extensively
looted markets, shops, and the offices of numerous international
After taking control of the town on January 10, pro-government
forces also looted and burned large areas of Bentiu, including
markets on either side of the main road and almost all of Rubkona
market and surrounding neighborhoods, leaving only charred remains.
Bentiu and Rubkona are currently under government control. Some
civilians have returned to the town looking for food, but the
majority of the population continues to take shelter at the UN base
or have fled to other areas.
Attacks on Civilians by Government Forces
As the government forces entered Rubkona from the north on January
10, Dinka who had taken shelter at the UN compound, including some
pro-government soldiers who had fled during Koang’s defection,
jumped over the fence and joined the attacking forces. Witnesses
saw the government soldiers give these men weapons, including
machetes, and described seeing some men from this group beat Nuer
civilians living next to the base and burn numerous huts.
At least five people were killed, including an elderly woman who
was burned in her hut. “They came, pushed me in, and then lit my
house on fire,” said another elderly woman who survived and who
still had severe burns on her face and arms when she spoke to Human
Rights Watch. “They were singing in Dinka when they came up to me.
When they saw that I had [traditional scarification] marks, they
identified me as Nuer.”
Almost all of Rubkona and Bentiu’s civilian population had fled the
towns ahead of the government attack. Government forces shot at the
remaining civilians, killing some as they fled toward the UN
compound. A witness told Human Rights Watch that he saw Sudanese
rebels from JEM and government soldiers taking aim and shooting
civilians as they were running toward the UN base.
After the government forces recaptured the town, witnesses saw
about 30 civilian bodies on the road between the town and the UN
base, including some in areas where there had been no exchange of
fire with opposition forces. Civilians who fled to nearby streams
and swampy areas said the government soldiers shot at them in their
hiding places in tall rushes.
“I saw three people shot … in the head and chest,” said one man who
hid among reeds for three days without food or water. “On the
second day of hiding they decided to walk out [of hiding] and then
they were shot.” Another man who hid nearby in a riverbed said
soldiers burned the rushes, perhaps to get a better look at where
people were hiding: “If you got out you would be killed, if the
grass [rushes] moved they shot at you,” he said. The same man saw
soldiers shoot a boy running beside him as he fled, and saw the
bodies of a woman and two other children in the river after
soldiers shot them.
Human Rights Watch was also shown the remains of five civilians
reportedly shot on the same day in a neighborhood of Rubkona, close
to these hiding areas. Their bodies had been burned at the site. A
young man, around 18 years old, said he had been shot in his left
thigh by government soldiers as he ran away from them. A government
worker said his 19-year-old nephew was also killed on January 10
and his body had been left in the Kallevalle neighborhood of
Bentiu. Several people told Human Rights Watch that they had seen
or heard of bodies left in various neighborhoods in Bentiu
following the recapture of the town.
Ethnic Targeting Before the Government Attack
Human Rights Watch found that prior to the clashes on December 20,
2013, ethnic Nuer members of security forces targeted ethnic Dinka
civilians in Bentiu and Rubkona in reprisal for the killings of
Nuer in Juba in December.
A government administrator was killed and two others were injured
when a mix of Nuer police and wildlife personnel attacked a house
in Bentiu, a relative of the inhabitants said. One woman said Nuer
members of the wildlife service beat her aunt so badly on the night
of December 20 that she later died. Another man said that Nuer
policemen had killed four people in his house after he fled.
One church leader said he gathered frightened Dinka in his church
on the night of December 19 as Nuer civilians and armed police
moved around his neighborhood looking for Dinka: “I heard people
talking behind my fence saying, ‘We will kill all Dinka.’ It was a
mix of civilians and police.” He saw the body of a Dinka woman, a
cleaner in his church, among around 15 corpses sent to the hospital
the next day.
A senior government official said that about 70 Dinka civilians had
been killed during the targeted killing in the towns. As most Dinka
had already moved to ethnic Dinka parts of Unity state, Human
Rights Watch was unable to ascertain the full extent of the
Efforts by government officials, army officials, and the UN mission
to collect Dinka and move them to the UN camp probably helped save
Conflict spread to Malakal, the ethnically diverse town with large
groups of Shilluk, Nuer, and Dinka, on December 24. Nuer forces
commanded by General Garhouth Galwak defected from the SPLA and
other security organs and clashed with the pro-government forces in
several locations, including near the UN compound north of town.
The government recaptured the town on December 27 and held it for
several weeks. The town changed hands again with an opposition
attack on January 14, 2014, back to a government recapture on
January 20, and a another opposition attack on February 18. The
attacking opposition forces in January and February included
thousands of fighters in the so-called white army, the name used to
describe large groups of armed Nuer youths fighting en masse, in
addition to uniformed opposition soldiers.
Forces on both sides killed many civilians, often based on their
ethnicity. The death toll is unknown, but many people interviewed
by Human Rights Watch said they saw dozens of bodies lying on main
roads in January and February. In addition to the targeted
killings, civilians were killed in the crossfire during clashes
near the UN compound on December 24, 2013, January 20, 2014, and
February 18, and as a result of fighting inside the camp for
displaced people inside the compound.
Attacks on Civilians by Opposition Forces
During their attack on January 14, the opposition “white army”
fighters, wearing colored headbands to indicate their country of
origin, went house to house demanding money, phones, food, or other
goods. They looted indiscriminately, including from ethnic Nuer
residents, but appear to have carried out more violence against
In one example, two armed “white army” members shot a man from
Maban county in the face and stomach, killing him instantly, when
he refused to hand over money and mobile phones, said his 22-year-
old wife, who witnessed the shooting:
When the rebels came from Nassir, we were at home. Some came
together and demanded a mobile. My husband, Jumaa, said ‘No, we
don’t have one.’ The rebels left but then two of them came back and
again asked for a mobile and money. They pointed their gun at Jumaa
and shot him in the belly and in the mouth.
A priest from Western Equatoria from the Moro ethnic group, told
Human Rights Watch that he had remained in town following the
opposition attack on January 14. He said that a soldier had
arrested his son, tied his hands, and took him to the river at
gunpoint. “The neighbor who saw this called us, and me and his
mother went running after the soldier,” the clergyman said. “He
started to fire in the air, then recognized me and let my son go.”
Many witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they had left
the town before the January 14 attack. They said that people who
returned to the town after the attack reported seeing dead bodies
on the streets or in homes, and that the victims apparently had
been shot during robberies. Since the opposition forces recaptured
the town on February 18, witnesses reported seeing additional dead
bodies and burning houses.
Ethnic Targeting by Government Forces
Human Rights Watch received consistent reports from many sources
that government soldiers targeted ethnic Nuer males for arrest and
killings after January 20. A Nuer Presbyterian pastor was among
those reported killed, as he was shot in the street in the days
after the town was recaptured.
“When the government came, they targeted Nuers,” said a witness, a
clergyman. “One pastor we know was killed. He put on his collar and
wanted to visit the hospital but was shot on the way.”
A 20-year-old student told Human Rights Watch that a group of seven
soldiers arrested him and two friends as they were walking to the
UN compound on January 20. The soldiers tied the youths’ hands with
rope, put them in a vehicle, and then handed them over to other
soldiers at a military barracks.
“They lined us up outside of a building and started shooting at
us,” he said. “When they shot at me I just fell down.” The three of
them were left for dead, but an hour later another soldier
discovered that one youth was alive and took him to the hospital.
His wounds required amputation of his right hand.
Another student, 18, said that on January 24 a group of government
soldiers arrested him and two other Nuer youths at their home in
Muderia area, took them to the riverbank, and shot at them.
“They took us because we are Nuers,” the youth said. “They walked
us to the riverside near the hospital. They told us to sit down and
then they shot us. I tried to run into the river after I was shot
and I fell into the water.”
He was shot in the buttocks and the thigh, and could not walk.
Another soldier found him later that day and took him to a church.
He believes the other two youths were killed.
Soldiers also arrested Nuer men at the Malakal teaching hospital,
where thousands of residents, most of them Nuer, had sought refuge
when the government recaptured the town. Witnesses said the
soldiers pulled the young men out of the hospital, took them near
the river, and shot them. One 24 year old student who had sought
refuge in the hospital said he went to the riverbank after hearing
gunshots in the evening and saw four bodies of Nuer men in their
Another student, also in his early twenties, was in the hospital
because he had been shot in the crossfire during the December 2013
clashes. He told Human Rights Watch that a soldier had entered his
room where he was staying, demanded his younger brother, 20, come
out of the hospital, then took him near the river and shot him.
Their 60-year-old mother found the body the next day. “When I went
to the river I saw my son with my own eyes,” she told Human Rights
Watch. “I couldn’t bury him because soldiers were at the river.”
Widespread Destruction, Looting
The clashes and attacks, widespread looting and destruction, and
other abuses by both sides have left the town destroyed and empty.
Many witnesses noted that Malakal has never seen this level of
destruction, even during the long civil war. Tens of thousands of
civilians, some fleeing ahead of the first clash in December 2013,
are now in villages or taking shelter at churches or the UN
compound, seven kilometers from the town.
Following initial looting and burning by opposition forces in
December, thousands of “white army” fighters from Nassir, Ulong,
and other Nuer areas did substantial damage during six days in
January 2014, looting the remaining shops, homes, and humanitarian
aid compounds. These forces continued to destroy civilian
properties when they regained control over the town following a
February 17, 2014, attack, according to aid workers.
Government forces also looted and burned civilian property after
January 20, said displaced residents who are now at the UN
compound, particularly as law and order broke down and many of the
state’s top officials defected or fled. When Human Rights Watch
visited the town on February 13, several homes were aflame or
smoldering from fires caused by vandalism.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with
a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
Bulletin is edited by William Minter.
AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at email@example.com . Please
write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin,
or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about
reposted material, please contact directly the original source
mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see