Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle This newspaper exists to build the people's struggle! We provide coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people. en Minneapolis Jamar Clark benefit show to raise funds for burial, ongoing organizing <p>Minneapolis, MN - Members of Jamar Clark’s family, community activists and artists will join together for the “Break the Silence! Honoring Jamar Clark Benefit Show,” on Feb. 9, 7:00-10:00 pm, at the Capri Theater, 2027 W. Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis.</p> <p>The event will raise funds to cover Clark’s tombstone and for ongoing organizing in his case. Featuring poetry, soul music and hip-hop, artists slated to perform include spoken word artist Keno Evol, Black Lives Matter protest anthem singer Jayanthi Kyle and nationally recognized emcees TruthMaze, Tall Paul, Maria Isa and Muja Messiah.</p> <p>Jamar Clark, a young Black man from North Minneapolis, was shot in the head while unarmed and handcuffed by the Minneapolis Police Department in the early morning of Nov. 15, 2015. Since his execution, the North Minneapolis community and Minnesotans of conscience have risen up to demand justice. Actions have included an 18-day occupation outside the Fourth Precinct police station and the shutdown of the Mall of America and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, both led by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.</p> <p>A coalition of community organizations called the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar continues to organize, led in part by Jamar’s cousin Alexander Clark who has emerged as the most prominent voice of Clark’s family. Alexander Clark headed up the organizing of Break the Silence!, envisioning a night to honor the life of his cousin, bring community members together in a spirit of unity, and ensure Clark is respectfully put to rest.</p> <p>Alexander Clark, organizer with the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, said: “I feel like this must be seen as a time of need to form a dedicated foundation of solidarity. We need to ensure that the entire world knows what we can do within the faith of the people.” He went on to describe how the names of Jamar Clark and many others murdered by police have become a rallying call against state violence. “If we don’t get no justice, they will not get no peace or sleep. In the spirit of freedom fighter Assata Shakur, I believe it is our duty to fight for our freedom, just as it is our duty to win. I believe we must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains. All power to the people. Ashe.”</p> <p>Clark approached the Anti-War Committee to be the organizational sponsor for the benefit show. Based in Minneapolis, the Anti-War Committee stands in solidarity with oppressed people at home and abroad. They work to draw links between the impacts of militarism abroad and the realities of militarized police terrorizing oppressed communities in the U.S.</p> <p>Jess Sundin, with the Anti-War Committee and the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, said: “We organize for an end to racist oppression and self-determination for all peoples. We were honored that Alex asked us to sponsor this benefit. We hope Break the Silence! creates space for people to come together to celebrate a young man’s life stolen too soon, and inspires us all to continue to fight for justice, at home and abroad.”</p> People's Struggles Antiwar Movement Police Brutality Anti-racism Jamar Clark Police Brutality police killings Racsim In-Justice System Mon, 08 Feb 2016 02:28:56 +0000 Fight Back 5237 at Imperialism and the Saudi-led assault on Yemen <p>Saudi Arabia's vicious assault on the people of Yemen continues nearly one year after its initiation - and there's no obvious end in sight. In March 2015, a Saudi-led military coalition largely made up of the other reactionary monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) launched a military intervention in Yemen. Called Operation Decisive Storm, this intervention began as a response to the overthrow of Yemen's corrupt government by the popular Houthi insurgency.</p> <p>To date, Operation Decisive Storm has left over 2800 Yemeni civilians - many of them children - dead, and displaced thousands. For all the carnage and brutality, though, Saudi Arabia's intervention comes from a place of weakness, not strength. And in the face of mass popular resistance and widespread international opposition, the operation has fared poorly for Saudi Arabia and its imperialist backers.</p> <p>As monopoly capitalism plunges the world deeper into crisis, the U.S. and its partners like Saudi Arabia lash out in increasingly brutal ways to maintain control of the oil-rich region and these actions spark fierce resistance by the anti-imperialist forces in the Middle East. The Houthi uprising in Yemen is part of this camp of resistance and the Saudi-led military intervention speaks to the eroding rule of imperialism in the region.</p> <p><strong>Yemen's revolutionary history</strong></p> <p>Yemen has a vibrant history of resistance to foreign domination. Because of its strategic location in the Gulf of Aden, Yemen drew the attention of both the British and Ottoman empires, which colonized and divided it into a north and south territory in 1904. After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, Britain continued to exercise control over Yemen through corrupt rulers and sultanates – not unlike the U.S.'s relationship to the Gulf monarchies today. However, in 1962, nationalist forces in the northern Yemen, inspired and supported by Gamal Abdel Nasser's anti-colonial government in Egypt, overthrew the British and Saudi-backed monarchy and proclaimed the Yemen Arab Republic in its place.</p> <p>This rebellion spread to southern Yemen in 1963, when communists and nationalists united to form the National Liberation Front of Yemen (NLF) and launched an armed struggle for liberation. Facing defeat, Britain granted independence to South Yemen in 1964 and withdrew from the country entirely two years later. The new NLF government immediately proclaimed itself the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) in 1970, aligned with the Soviet Union and set itself the goal of building socialism.</p> <p>For the next 20 years, Yemen remained divided – a capitalist north and a national democratic, leftist south – until the PDRY agreed to a unification proposal in 1990. For the vast majority of the Yemeni people, however, unification proved economically disastrous. Per capita income for Yemeni workers dropped 10% between 1989 and 1993. In the same period, prices for food and basic goods skyrocketed, unemployment reached 25% and nearly one in three Yemenis lived in poverty.</p> <p>While the majority suffered extreme hardships from unification, the small class of wealthy in the north made dramatic gains in this period by privatizing the south's socialized industries, confiscating peasant land and stealing oil revenue from government coffers. This unified Yemeni government, led by Ali Abdullah Saleh, also aligned itself closely with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, generating popular discontent and protest. After the outbreak of a brief civil war in the south by former PDRY elements, Saleh's government heavily repressed the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) to eliminate any challenge to its rule.</p> <p><strong>The Houthi insurgency and the national democratic revolution</strong></p> <p>Shortly thereafter, Saleh's government faced another challenge to its rule – this time from the north. The Houthi insurgency began in 2004 among the rural Shi'a populations living in northern Yemen, who make up about a third of the entire country. Yemen's Shi'a communities faced extreme poverty and persecution from Saleh since before reunification. Influenced by the liberation theology of Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah, the Houthis formed with the goal of driving out U.S. imperialism, Saudi domination and their puppet rulers.</p> <p>Triggered in part by the wave of Arab uprisings in 2011, the Houthis joined with other popular forces in Yemen to drive Saleh out of power. Fearing the loss of Yemen as a neo-colony, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia installed another puppet, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in his place. Hadi's government continued the corrupt economic policies of Saleh and abandoned the political reforms agreed to by opposition forces. Hadi, like Saleh, also allowed the U.S. free reign to conduct drone strikes throughout the country.</p> <p>The crisis in Yemen reached a boiling point in 2014, when Houthi rebels stormed the presidential palace in Sanaa, the country's capital, and placed Hadi under house arrest. Having seized state power and having begun laying the ground for an inclusive democratic republic, the Houthi government immediately came under military siege by the Saudi-led GCC coalition.</p> <p><strong>The empire strikes back</strong></p> <p>On the whole, this intervention has not gone well for Saudi Arabia. It began as an aerial bombing campaign, but the Saudi-led coalition eventually committed ground troops to directly fight Houthi forces. The coalition has experienced high casualties and it has largely failed to unseat the Houthis from country's populated urban centers.</p> <p>Furthermore, these attacks on Yemen have forged a large united front of unlikely partners. In May 2015, deposed President Saleh and a large section of Yemen's national military announced an alliance with the Houthi insurgency aimed at defeating the Saudi-led coalition. Although Saleh ruled Yemen as an ally of the U.S. before popular protests forced his resignation in 2012, he has come out in support of the national democratic forces resisting foreign intervention.</p> <p>Saudi Arabia faces widespread international opposition to its campaign in Yemen, largely owing to the many documented atrocities committed by coalition forces. An as-of-yet-unpublished U.N. panel report from January found evidence of “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians by coalition forces, including “bombing residential neighborhoods” and “treating the entire cities of Sa’dah and Maran as military targets.”</p> <p>While not actively engaged in combat, the U.S. stands firmly behind this vicious war on Yemen. From their perspective, a Houthi-led national democratic government in Yemen would oppose U.S. drone strikes and counter Western aggression toward the camp of resistance. As Saudi Arabia's main supplier of weapons, warplanes and military equipment to the tune of several hundred billion dollars, U.S. imperialism literally makes the entire assault possible.</p> <p><strong>Crisis and resistance in the Arabian peninsula</strong></p> <p>U.S. imperialism is in a period of deep crisis, particularly in the Middle East. The occupation of Iraq ended in defeat for the U.S. and the occupation government it left to govern now leans towards Iran. Its attempts to destabilize the national democratic governments of Iran and Syria have failed. Popular democratic forces in countries like Bahrain and Yemen shook, and in some cases overthrew, long-standing puppet governments.</p> <p>At the center of these victories are the anti-imperialist forces in the Middle East, which comprise a camp of resistance. Anchored by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the camp of resistance includes the Syrian Arab Republic, Hezbollah and the patriotic forces of Lebanon, the Palestinian liberation organizations and other allied national democratic movements in the Middle East.</p> <p>Saudi Arabia's attack on Yemen reflects its growing desperation and weakening ability to project influence in the region. Along with the U.S., Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council monarchies, Saudi Arabia invested heavily in toppling the Syrian government in order to strike a blow against Iran – its largest competitor for regional influence. The failure to overthrow Assad – due in part to intervention by Hezbollah, Iran and Russia – and its inability to control the anti-Assad opposition groups like Islamic State speak to the sharply declining influence of Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>As an anachronistic religious monarchy built by imported migrant labor and the craven exploitation of natural resources, the House of Saud's wealth masks its vulnerability to crises in imperialism. Fearing an increase of U.S. domestic oil production, the Saudi monarchy flooded the world market with cheap oil, which further drove down falling energy prices. As a result, the country faces a widening deficit from the decline in oil revenues and eroding investor confidence by imperialist powers.</p> <p>The Saudi monarchy increasingly reacts to this deepening crisis with brutal and disproportionate political repression. Opposition movements terrify the House of Saud, which promotes anti-Shi'a sectarianism to drum up support for aggression against Iran. This fear fuels increasingly drastic actions, like the execution of Shi'a cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, along with 46 other dissidents and prisoners, at the start of 2016.</p> <p>Saudi Arabia exaggerates the level of Iranian support for the Houthi insurgency. Iranian officials have expressed solidarity with the Houthis as part of the camp of resistance. Reports indicate that they have provided weapons to the insurgents in response to the GCC's brutal onslaught. Facing the looming threat of U.S. and Israeli aggression, Iran has an obvious interest in seeing anti-imperialist movements like the Houthis come to power because it strengthens the camp of resistance.</p> <p>However, the Houthi insurgency is not a proxy army of Iran like the Western media portrays. It's a popular movement with strong roots among the Yemeni people, who have had enough brutality inflicted on them by imperialist powers. And their stand in the face of unrelenting attacks deserves our support and solidarity.</p> People's Struggles Antiwar Movement anti-war Imperialism Middle East Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Yemen Yemen Mon, 08 Feb 2016 02:14:00 +0000 Fight Back 5236 at Milwaukee students oppose cuts; seize stage at UW-M chancellors speech <p>Milwaukee, WI - About 20 students and faculty members rallied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Feb. 3, and marched on university Chancellor Mark Mone's Spring Plenary address at the Zelazo Center.</p> <p>Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) led the protest joined by Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) as a part of its campaign against the $250 million budget cut to the UW system, now entering its first year anniversary.</p> <p>Angered by how administration has been handling the budget cut process, SDS and YES marched into the Zelazo Center just before Chancellor Mone's address was about to begin and took the stage, carrying signs and a banner reading “Education is a right!”</p> <p>After a few minutes of confused chatter from the audience, consisting of mostly administration and faculty with little to no students in attendance, Breanna Eisner of SDS spoke to the audience, “Instead of six-figure salaries for unnecessary bureaucratic positions, money should be invested into our education, student and academic services, resource centers, campus workers and instructional units.”</p> <p>The audience listened in silence, as did Mone, the chancellor appearing a bit uneasy by this interruption of the proceedings. “The budget proposals have not been implemented yet and I've already lost the majority of my TA's, side-instructors and tutors,” Breanna continued. “My class of 100 students considered 'too small' by the university to qualify for a TA. Study abroad programs are being cut, participation in student government is being marginalized, majors and minors are being eliminated completely. The cost of tuition and food is outrageous for a 20-year old making only minimum wage. The inflation of living expenses is destroying the working class by indebting those who have to earn a living wage.”</p> <p>After a moment of stunned silence, the audience clapped and the protesters marched out chanting, “We won't go without a fight, education is a right!”</p> <p>During the plenary, Chancellor Mone made his case for increasing student tuition: “One of the things that I argue is that it is not good policy to continue to cap the price or tuition for any good [...] I think you can all appreciate what a modest tuition increase can do for our campus, not at the levels we had before the 6.8% tuition increase that we had from roughly 2001 through 2011. But even less than half of that would make a huge difference.”</p> <p>Resident undergraduate tuition for 2015-2016 is $9452, based on 12 to 18 credits for both semesters. A 3.4% annual increase would effectively result in a total increase of $1351 in tuition per student after four years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> SDS Youth Empowered in the Struggle Student Movement Sat, 06 Feb 2016 20:31:18 +0000 Fight Back 5235 at 5000 march to oppose layoffs in Chicago Public Schools <p>Chicago, IL - In response to the announcement of over 1000 layoffs of teachers and staff, the Chicago Teachers Union rallied, marched and occupied the Bank of America (BoA) on LaSalle Street, Feb. 4.</p> <p>Waves of union members, students and supporters from organized labor and the community filled the streets of the Loop as the march wound through the streets for several hours. At the start of the action, 16 teachers were arrested in the BoA lobby. Sarah Chambers was one of those arrested. When she was finally released at 11:30 p.m., she said, “We were there demanding that Bank of America renegotiate toxic swaps and return the money to the schools.”</p> <p>Before the financial crash of 2008, the Chicago Public Schools borrowed a huge amount of money from a number of banks, with BoA among the largest. The bankers sold the loans on the false premise that they would save the schools money in the future if interest rates rose. In fact, the banks knew that a crisis was coming soon, and that interest rates would fall.</p> <p>The CTU has confronted Mayor Rahm Emanuel on this matter, exposing that he won’t go to court to get relief from his banker cronies. Many other big cities have saved millions from such legal actions.</p> <p>This is one of the examples that the teachers use to show that there is no need to lay off frontline workers in the schools, cut pensions or impose other attacks. As she headed home from jail, Chambers said, “CPS is broke on purpose. Rahm’s appointed Board of Ed is forcing their crisis on the backs of teachers and teacher assistants.”</p> <p>The morning of the protest, the Chicago Tribune reported that Emanuel’s popularity had sunk even lower. 60% of likely voters supported the CTU, against 20% for Emanuel. With this level of solidarity, Chambers declared, “We will continue to fight back to protect our students.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Bank of America Chicago Teachers Union Rahm Emanuel Labor Sat, 06 Feb 2016 20:11:36 +0000 Fight Back 5234 at Florida State students speak out against Florida/Israeli anti-BDS bill <p>Tallahassee, FL - On the morning of Feb. 4, a group of Florida State students and community activists attended the Florida House State Affairs Committee to speak out against proposed House Bill 527. The bill, sponsored by Florida Representative Ritch Workman of Melbourne, would penalize companies for participating in the growing movement to boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.</p> <p>Immediately before passing the bill to blacklist companies that boycott Israeli apartheid, the committee took the bizarre step of voting to condemn the BDS movement on human rights grounds. The politicians claim the BDS movement is anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish.</p> <p>During public comment, activists spoke out against the outrageous and reactionary resolution.</p> <p>"The proposed legislation makes the mistake of calling the BDS movement anti-Jewish. BDS targets practices and policies, not religion. I implore legislators, media and citizens; do not make the mistake of equating an apartheid Jewish state with Judaism. To do so is irresponsible and ahistorical," said Aaron Ellis, co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine at Florida State University.</p> <p>The students and activists gave testimony detailing the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli government against Palestinians. They called on the committee to support the BDS movement for human rights.</p> <p>“It is disgusting that the U.S. would rather forgo paying for education, health care and basic infrastructure in order to support the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, spending $10 million a day to support the murderous military of Israel,” said Regina Joseph, a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at Florida State University.</p> <p>Joseph continued, “As an African American, I see the similarities of apartheid in Israel to the ongoing situation of Black people in the U.S. I stand with the people of Palestine and because of that I support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.”</p> <p>After the politicians on the committee moved to vote on the bill, student activists began chanting, “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes!” and tried to raise a banner saying “Stop funding Israeli apartheid” in front of the committee.</p> <p>The protesters were forcibly removed from the committee room by security guards. The committee proceeded to vote for the bill. The entire Florida House is likely to vote on the bill in coming weeks.</p> <p>“Whether you’re an activist, a student, a scholar, a victim or a member of a research institution that has time and time again revealed Israel’s unilateral violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, your opinion doesn’t matter,” said Albert Kishek, president of Students for Justice in Palestine at Florida State University.</p> Antiwar Movement BDS Palestine SDS Student Movement Fri, 05 Feb 2016 04:47:27 +0000 Fight Back 5233 at Chicago Teachers reject city contract proposal, call for protest <p>Chicago, IL - On Feb. 1, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) rejected an offer from the city. Management claimed their offer was generous to the teachers, but when the 40 teachers and working members of the bargaining committee looked at the language in the offer, they found more attacks on their students.</p> <p>Sarah Chambers, a member of the CTU committee bargaining the new contract with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) stated, “Their proposals include language where they would not have to fill positions for people who retire or leave, it includes cuts to paraprofessionals who help kids with special needs and it wouldn't have enforceable class size language. We need to protect our students and the schools our students deserve.”</p> <p>Chicago Public Schools planned to find money for the contract by laying people off, freezing salaries for union members with the most seniority and ending CPS’s share of payments for the pension. But the union members didn’t believe the promises of no layoffs and halting the growth of non-union charter schools.</p> <p>Chambers explained, “We don't trust Rahm and his appointed board. Rahm cares about our students as much as he cared about Laquan McDonald,” referring to the 17-year-old Black high school student murdered by a cop in October 2014. Mayor Rahm Emanuel kept a video of the shooting from being released until after he had been re-elected in April 2015.</p> <p>Teachers will rally Feb. 4 at the Bank of America on LaSalle Street, Chicago’s financial district. Bank of America and other banks receive payments for loans that were arranged in corrupt deals ten years ago. Other cities have renegotiated and saved many millions of dollars. Emanuel refuses to challenge his bankster cronies.</p> People's Struggles chicago Chicago Teachers Union Labor Labor Thu, 04 Feb 2016 01:35:14 +0000 Fight Back 5232 at Georgia students occupy universities to protest racist Supreme Court decision <p>Atlanta, GA - 14 student activists were arrested for occupying classrooms at three different universities in Georgia, the evening of Feb. 1 and early morning Feb. 2. They were part of an action of more than 90 students from more than ten different universities who were protesting the Georgia Supreme Court’s ruling banning undocumented students from suing the Board of Regents to gain in-state tuition. The court ruling effectively upholds the state’s policy that bans undocumented students from Georgia’s top five public colleges and universities.</p> <p>The students staged the sit-ins at the University of Georgia in Athens and at two universities in Atlanta - Georgia State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology - to seek statements from the schools’ presidents that denounce both the ban on undocumented students and the Supreme Court’s decision.</p> <p>The student’s actions coincided with the 56th anniversary of the first Greensboro, North Carolina sit-in of Feb. 1, 1960, during which four young Black men were arrested for ordering coffee at a segregated lunch counter. In the legacy of these courageous men, the occupiers demanded an end to Georgia’s racist segregationist policies against undocumented immigrant students. One student, Victor Morales, said in a statement that he was inspired by the North Carolina men, saying, “The Greensboro Four showed me the power of being committed to a goal beyond myself and what it means to be free.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Freedom U undocumented students Immigrant Rights Wed, 03 Feb 2016 13:51:08 +0000 Fight Back 5231 at Greek Communists say “The people’s resistance can block the political line of the government” <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following Jan. 27 statement from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).</em></p> <p>The workers'-people's mobilizations have been intensifying in Greece since the beginning of 2016, focusing on the reactionary changes the SYRIZA-ANEL government is seeking to make to the social-security and pension system, wiping out significant workers' gains, increasing the social-security contributions of the workers and the retirement age, reducing pensions and cutting social benefits, e.g. for people with special needs.</p> <p>Hundreds of trade unions all over the country, rallied by the All-workers' Militant Front (PAME) have been carrying out mobilizations in the first weeks of 2016 including pickets, rallies, symbolic occupations of public buildings, demonstrations, strikes. So, yesterday, 26/1, PAME held new demonstrations in Athens and other cities. The demonstrators in Athens reached Parliament, at the time when the discussion between the political leaders was underway in relation to the impending anti-people changes to the social-security system. At the same time, PAME's forces are playing the leading role in organizing the general strike that has been called for the 4th of February. PAME's basic demand is for the government to withdraw its plans, the law "guillotine", as the anti-people plans of the "leftwing" SYRIZA government have been labeled by the workers.</p> <p>In addition, all over the country there are impressive mobilizations of small and medium farmers, who have set up dozens of roadblocks on the country's motorways, protesting against the heavy taxes, against the EU's political line that is destroying them, as well as against the government's plan to foist new burdens on them in relation to social-security. Only at one roadblock outside the city of Larisa (Nikaia), on the country's central motorway, over 2,500 tractors have gathered at the largest farmers' roadblock in the country. Representatives from 37 roadblocks met on 26/1 at Nikaia to discuss the framework of their demands. They stress in their resolution that "We came onto the roads to struggle for our survival. To fight against the political line that wants to destroy us, to drive us off the land, to poverty and destitution, so that the land and production can be concentrated in the hands of the big farmers and business groups, implementing the directives of the CAP and of the EU in general. So that the measures to wipe out the small and medium farmers do not pass, i.e. the measures of the Third memorandum that the government agreed to with its partners, the EU and IMF, and passed with votes of other parties. These measures attack the workers and the people as a whole." The small and medium farmers refuse to take their tractors off the roads and discuss with the government until it withdraws its draft law for the social-security system and responds to their demands, such as, for example, those related to tax reductions, reductions to the cost of production and others.</p> <p>The self-employed, youth, women, who are also being attacked by the government's plans, are at the side of PAME and the small and medium farmers. An important role in these popular mobilizations is being played by the forces of the "All-farmers' Militant Rally" (PASY), the "Nationwide Anti-monopoly Rally" (PASEVE), the Students' Struggle Front (MAS) and the Federation of Greek Women (OGE). The size and dynamism of the mobilizations is such that the silence of the foreign media (US, European, Russian etc.) is noteworthy. These media have either completely concealed these mobilizations or have mentioned them in a very brief way. For this reason, the KKE is adding new photographs and videos from these struggles onto its foreign language web pages on a daily basis- <a href="" title=""></a> While those that understand Greek can visit the KKE's news portal at <a href="" title=""></a> , where there is the relevant news stream.</p> <p>Dimitris Koutsoumpas: The SYRIZA government is a useful multitool of the decaying capitalist system.</p> <p>Dimitris Koutsoumpas, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the KKE, speaking in Parliament on 26/1, noted amongst other things, "Social security is one of the most important gains.</p> <p>It is at the heart of the life of the families from the working class and popular strata. It safeguards the protection of the weak, including social insurance and pension cover, access to health and welfare services, special institutional protection for those who have unsafe and unhealthy occupations, protection from work-related accidents, leave for pregnancy and recuperation. These gains were not given easily, but achieved through the tough and bloody struggles of the workers".</p> <p>The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the KKE stressed that the goals of the government are the implementation of the plans of the capitalists to end the social character to insurance, to transform it into a private matter for each individual worker. So that sections of capital-insurance companies, big health businesses- to benefit from the collapse of the social-security system. In addition, thousands of poor farmers and self-employed people, who cannot endure the competition, are being violently driven from production. Their position in production will be taken by the large capitalist businesses.</p> <p>D. Koutsoumpas underlined that "this government is finishing the dirty work, on behalf of capital, that ND and PASOK did not have the time or were not able to finish." He underscored that the SYRIZA government is a "useful multitool of this decaying system."</p> <p>The General Secretary of the Central Committee tabled in Parliament the draft law, which the KKE has elaborated and meets the needs of the people today in relation to social security and also expressed the party's support for the workers', farmers' and other popular mobilizations, stressing that "the same and similar measures are being taken in all the EU countries. They are directions that have been in place since the beginning of the 1990s."</p> <p>He added that "The only force that can impede the government's plans to impoverish the people, that can put a brake on the surge of the monopoly groups and their governments is a strong social alliance of the people. The KKE calls on the workers to join a mass front of struggle to save and strengthen the institution of public social security (...) We say that we can lead a life with dignity, with contemporary rights. In any case, this is what history teaches us and also the gains of other peoples in the socialist countries, which were achieved in the previous century. Insurance, pensions, medical cover were the exclusive responsibility of the state (...) So we can live, our people can live as they deserve to, as long as the our country's productive potential, natural resources, concentrated means of production, become socially owned, under the aegis of people's power. So that they are utilized through central planning, which will be scientifically guided, with the active participation of the workers in the organization and administration of social production and social services, with disengagement from the shackles of the EU and unilateral cancellation of the debt. Only in this way can there be an end to the increasing torments of our people caused by the capitalist system, its crises, the EU and the governments that manage this path."</p> People's Struggles Greece Communist Party of Greece Europe Greece International KKE Syriza Mon, 01 Feb 2016 23:41:32 +0000 Fight Back 5230 at Hundreds march in Austin for Black Lives Matter <p>Austin, TX - Over 300 students and activists marched at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Austin on Jan. 30. The large crowd of both students and community activists rallied at the University of Austin campus to hear speeches and then marched to the Texas state capitol building.</p> <p>Protesters chanted, "Hands up, don't shoot!" and "Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!”</p> <p>There was a very fiery speech by Olinka Green, a leader arrested last year for handing out flyers against police brutality in downtown Dallas. She asked all the African American women to come up on stage, and then called for unity against racism and police brutality.</p> <p>“Too many of us are being killed. It is time to resist. We have to win this fight!” Green said. She received thunderous applause for her stirring speech and the crowd cheered her on.</p> <p>After the speeches, the march began and as they passed a group of police on the way to the capitol building, the students chanted, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, killer cops have got to go!"</p> <p>“Oppression breeds resistance, and with every new case of police brutality, resistance is increasing,” said Fabian Van Onzin with Students for a Democratic Society. “Our SDS group at the University of Houston held a good sized rally for Sandra Bland yesterday, so today we came to the state capitol in solidarity. The movement in Texas to oppose police crimes and change the system of injustice is growing. SDS is here to support and be part of the freedom struggle of African Americans.”</p> Police Brutality African-American Anti-racism Black Lives Matter Mon, 01 Feb 2016 21:32:50 +0000 Fight Back 5229 at Minnesotans organizing to support peace process in Colombia <p>Minneapolis, MN: Around 30 people gathered here, Jan. 28, at May Day Bookstore to hear from Anti-War Committee activists about the Colombian peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba. Afterwards they discussed whether the Colombian civil war is coming to a close and what the significance of an end to the more than 50 year war would mean for the social movements in Colombia. </p> <p>In October, 2012 the Colombian government and the largest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), began negotiations for an end to the war in Oslo, Norway. The negotiations then moved to Havana, Cuba the next month and have continued. Last September, they set out March 23 of this year as the deadline for peace agreement. While a conclusion on that date is not certain, both sides seem confident an agreement could be reached before mid-year.</p> <p>The event began with Jennie Eisert, a Colombian-American anti-war activist, explaining the key background needed for the audience to understand the current peace process underway, “In the early 1980s, following peace talks with the former President Belisario Betancur, a ceasefire was declared in 1984, this was the first and last time the FARC laid down their weapons, and this gave way to a political party. They acknowledged that agreements signed with the government represented an opening that had not existed before. The FARC joined other leftist groups to form the Patriotic Union (UP), a radical left political party that performed surprisingly well in the elections that followed. However, paramilitary groups and extremist elements within the military and drug cartels began one of the bloodiest extermination campaigns, assassinating thousands of UP leaders and sympathizers.” Eisert noted that the history of this previous peace process makes the social movement in Colombia both excited and nervous for an end to the war. </p> <p>Meredith Aby-Keirstead spoke about the current peace process and stressed the importance of the case of Simon Trinidad. </p> <p>One of the main demands from the FARC has been for their lead diplomat Ricardo Palmera, who is also known as Simon Trinidad, to be released from U.S. custody. After four trials in the U.S., he was sentenced to 60 years of prison. Trinidad’s imprisonment in solitary confinement in a Colorado Supermax is seen by many as a barrier to peace. </p> <p> The Associated Press reported on Jan. 30, “With peace talks expected to wrap up as early as March and President Juan Manuel Santos heading to Washington on Tuesday to cement U.S. support for an accord with the FARC, there is a renewed push to win the 65-year-old's release. Last week, Colombian Sen. Ivan Cepeda, a trusted conduit of both the FARC and Santos, quietly met with Palmera at the United States' highest security prison to discuss how he can contribute to peace, according to officials in Colombia and the U.S. familiar with the meeting. Cepeda was accompanied by Colombian diplomats and the conversation monitored by U.S. law enforcement, said four officials, who insisted on not being named because they weren't authorized to discuss the issue publicly. The officials wouldn't reveal specifics about was said in the meeting, but the visit was unusual.”</p> <p>Aby-Keirstead motivated the audience to take up this cause, “We, the anti-war movement, need to participate in the upcoming national call in days to demand that Obama release Trinidad. This week President Obama publicly thanked the Cuban government for hosting the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC. He said the U.S. ‘supports the implementation of the Colombian accord on the victims of the conflict, justice and restitution of the lands.’ We need to hold him to his words. If the U.S. wants talk about peace in Colombia then it cannot keep being a barrier to the negotiations. Please join with us in demanding the release of Ricardo Palmera.”</p> <p>Robert Trousdale and Jess Sundin, also members of the Anti-War Committee also spoke. Trousdale explained the role of the School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia which trains Latin American military in counterinsurgency warfare under the guise of ‘democracy promotion.’ He went to the annual SOA protest in November of 2015 and spoke about his experience. Sundin was in Colombia during the last peace process in 2000 and spoke about her observations in rebel controlled territory. </p> <p>The Minnesota Anti-War Committee plans to participate in national call-in days to demand the release of Simon Trinidad and other Colombian political prisoners. At the end of the event people wrote letters to President Obama demanding his release and to Simon Trinidad in prison.</p> Antiwar Movement Americas Anti-War Committee Colombia colombian peace process FARC-EP minneapolis Ricardo Palmera Mon, 01 Feb 2016 01:00:52 +0000 Fight Back 5227 at