International News

Protesters have been camping outside a Sri Lankan Air Force base since January 31 at Keappaapulavu on the north-eastern coast of the island of Sri Lanka.

Women are playing a leading role in the protest. They are demanding the return of their land, which was taken away to create a military zone. 

The Keappaapulavu base is one of many military bases built throughout the north and east of the island. After the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland, Tamil areas are under what amounts to a military occupation.

The widespread jubilation when it was announced that Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera would be released in May shows that liberation struggle still resonates in the Caribbean island that remains a United States colony.

Ecuador’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced on February 22 that the presidential race will head to a second round after left-wing candidate Lenin Moreno came first in the February 19 election, but fell agonisingly short of the 40% needed to win a first-round victory.

Moreno, from the ruling Alianza Pais (AP) of outgoing President Rafael Correa, won 39.35% of the vote. He beat right-wing Guillermo Lasso of the opposition CREO party by more than 10 percentage points, with the ex-banker winning 28.12%.

March for refugees in Barcelona, February 18.

Hundreds of thousands of people overflowed the streets of central Barcelona on February 20 in the largest ever European demonstration in support of refugee rights. The city police estimated attendance at 160,000 people; the organisers — the “Our House, Your House” campaign — put it at half a million people.

All along the vast march, its thematic sea-blue placards stood out in the light of the bright winter’s day: “Enough excuses! Let’s take them in now!"

In the end, the expected close result never happened. At the second congress (“citizens’ assembly”) of Spain’s radical anti-austerity party Podemos, the proposals and candidate list of outgoing general secretary Pablo Iglesias easily defeated those of his rival, outgoing political secretary Inigo Errejon.

In a December Podemos membership vote over the rules that were to govern the congress, Iglesias’s position had only won marginally (41.57% as against 39.12% for Errejon’s).

The Trump administration is pressing on with its reactionary agenda amid ongoing mass protests.

Wall Street and businesses, big and small, greeted Trump’s election with elation in anticipation of his campaign promises to rapidly eliminate regulations they regard as onerous. As Trump seeks to fulfil these promises, the capitalists are moving to take advantage of the chance to rake in greater profits.

A London protest against Donald Trump.

Nearly 2 million Britons have signed a petition calling on President Trump’s official state visit to be canceled. On February 20, thousands of protesters gathered outside Parliament in London as British lawmakers debated whether to deny Trump a formal state visit. Democracy Now! spoke to Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth International. He spoke at the protest in London on February 20. The video and transcript are below.

Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq has begun a new hunger strike in protest of how Israel has once again detained him without charge or trial.

A strike at Chile's Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, entered its fifth day on February 13 with few signs of speedy resolution as workers threaten to stop production for up to two months.

Workers began a strike at the Australian-run BHP Billiton mine on February 9 to put pressure on the company after failing to reach an agreement in wage negotiations.

The union said its 2500 members are committed to action and threatened a two-month work stoppage, leading BHP to admit that it will not be able to meet its contractual obligations.

Members of the Argentine Metal Workers’ Union (UOM) marched to the Ministry of Labour in Buenos Aires on February 14 in protest of thousands of jobs cut from electronics manufacturing companies.

The cuts came after a government decision to eliminate a 35% tax on computer imports.

Protesters gathered in front of the National Congress of Argentina before marching to the offices of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, with many banging drums and waving flags.

Other unions also took part in the demonstration.

Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on February 14 denouncing a move by the Trump administration to sanction Venezuelan Vice-President Tarek El Aissami over drug trafficking allegations.

On February 13, the Treasury Department froze all of El Aissami’s alleged assets in the US under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. This makes Venezuela’s vice-president the top-ranking official of any country to be sanctioned in this way.

Despite global financial crises that have rocked the small South American nation in recent years, Ecuador has managed to achieve landmark social and economic progress in the past decade under the left-wing government of President Rafael Correa, according to a new report from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.

As anti-choice protestors revved-up to demonstrate at Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the United States on February 11, pro-choice activists beat them at their own game: the organisation's supporters outnumbered those calling for it to be defunded.

Throughout the country, the counter-demonstrations featured larger crowds than the anti-Planned Parenthood ones.

An immigrant rights march in Los Angeles.
Thousands in the streets across US for Weekend of Action

The resistance is taking many forms in the United States, Common Dreams said, with some constituents showing up to lawmakers' town hall events to demand accountability and others taking to the streets to protest the Trump administration and its draconian policies. 

"McDonald's workers clearly aren't lovin' Trump's immigration policies," Mashable.com said. "On Thursday, McDonald's restaurants across the United States, along with a variety of other businesses, closed their doors as part of a nationwide '

In the first ever visit by a serving Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive in Australia this month as part of an international tour aimed at shoring up Israel’s reputation abroad.

The visit has actually attracted attention — but not the kind Netanyahu would like.

The July 15 coup attempt was a nightmare. Kurds remember the terrible army coups in Turkey’s past. After the coups, Kurdish people were jailed, killed and tortured.

Kurds are against military coups. By nightfall on July 15, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had immediately condemned the coup attempt.

Kurds thought that after the coup attempt, there may be a return to the peace process.

The reasons behind this were:

Thwe two statements below were released by the socialist Awami Workers Party (AWP) in response to the February 16 terrorist attack on the Lal Shehbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan, Sindh and the February 13 terrorist attack in Lahore. They are reposted from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

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“Trump’s America,” wrote a leading African American journalist, Charles Blow in the New York Times, January 30, “is not America: not today’s or tomorrow’s, but yesterday’s.

“Trump’s America is brutal, perverse, regressive, insular and afraid. There is no hope in it; there is no light in it. It is a vast expanse of darkness and desolation.”

There is a lot of disgust toward Trump and his white nationalist strategist Steve Bannon, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, a leading promoter of conspiracy theories and white supremacists.

Since the huge Women’s Marches protesting Trump’s policies on January 21, there have been almost daily demonstrations against his policies.

These include rallies against his stepped-up raids and deportations of undocumented immigrants, in particular the Day Without Immigrant national protests on February 16 during which thousands of migrants went on strike and demonstrated across the country. 

In one week leading up to February 10, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested nearly 700 people in raids in at least 11 states.

Jock Palfreeman is a 30-year-old Australian man wrongly jailed for the murder of a neo-Nazi in Bulgaria in 2007. Palfreeman came to the assistance of a Roma man being assaulted by a gang of fascist football hooligans. During the ensuing fight, one of the attackers was fatally stabbed.

The dead youth came from a family with powerful political connections. Despite serious weaknesses in the case against him, Palfreeman was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Tens of thousands of Mexicans protested in more than 20 cities on February 12 against US President Donald Trump. Marchers hit back at Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric and his depictions of them as “rapists” and “criminals”, demanding “the respecting of Mexico”.

“Mexico must be respected, Mr Trump,” said a giant banner carried by protesters in Mexico City, who waved a sea of red, white and green Mexican flags as they marched down the capital’s main avenue.

A union leader, M Sujeewa Mangala, was found blindfolded and dumped by the roadside on February 1, three days after being abducted by unknown armed men.

Mangala, the vice-president of the All-Ceylon Telecommunication Employees Union, has been playing a leading role in the struggle of temporary workers at Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) for permanency. The workers are classified as “temporary” even though some have been working at SLT for more than a decade.

March against DAPL in San Francisco.

A Lakota prophecy tells of a mythic Black Snake that will move underground and bring destruction to the Earth. The “seventh sign” in Hopi prophecy involves the ocean turning black and bringing death to many sea-dwelling creatures.

It does not take an over-active imagination to make a connection between these images and oil pipelines and spills.

Protests have hit the predominantly Tamil Northern Province of Sri Lanka in recent days.

On February 4, Tamilnet said 200 relatives of disappeared people gathered near the Jaffna District Secretariat building. Sivapatham Ilankothai told how her daughter and son-in-law and their three children disappeared after being taken away by the Sri Lankan Army on May 18, 2009. Many thousands of other Tamils have also disappeared in a similar way.

Sitting in Gwanghwamun square on December 31, the screen rapidly dialled up to 10 million as it added up the number of participants in the past 10 candlelight protests against the corrupt influence over President Park Geun-hye by powerful corporate interests.

Every Saturday evening for the last two months of 2016, people had come out in the streets calling for Park’s impeachment. On December 9, an impeachment motion had been passed in the National Assembly by an overwhelming vote.

Days of angry protests have hit Paris and other French cities after police raped and bashed a 22-year-old Black man on February 2.

Windows were smashed and fires were started in Paris's Menilmontant district on the night of February 8, TeleSUR English said the next day. Activists took to the streets to call for justice for “Theo” after French police were charged over his rape and abuse during a raid on a housing estate in the working-class department of Seine-Saint-Denis. One of the police officers has been charged with rape, while three others were charged with assault.

Left-wing British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s relaunch of his campaign since the start of the year has seen him take a more combative and pro-active approach in putting forward his anti-austerity, anti-war agenda. In doing so, he has engaged more with the media.

Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) leader Comrade Srilata Swaminathan passed away in Udaipur (Rajasthan) in the early morning of February 5. She was 74.

Comrade Srilata suffered a stroke on January 28 and was rushed to a hospital in Udaipur where she breathed her last following a cardiac arrest.

Jose Almudéver.

February 6 marked the 80th anniversary of the start of the “Battle of Jarama” during the Spanish Civil War, as left-wing and democratic forces fought to stop the fascist forces of General Franco taking power.

Alongside the Battle of Madrid, the Battle of Jarama is commonly associated with the participation of the International Brigades — volunteers, often organised by communist parties, who travelled from around the world to Spain to join the anti-fascist fight.

Huge pro-choice counter-protests overwhelm 'Defund Planned Parenthood' actions

Anti-abortion groups called for 'Defund Planned Parenthood' demonstrations at more than 200 Planned Parenthood locations throughout the United States on February 11 to pressure President Donald Trump to strip the women's health provider of federal funding.

Donald Trump came roaring out of the starting gate after his inauguration, doubling down on the main themes of his election campaign. He moved quickly to initiate a slew of executive orders, tweets and rulings.

One major aspect of this is his drive to progressively concentrate ever more power in his own hands. Since the start of his campaign for president, Trump has maintained that the establishments of both the Democratic and Republican parties have failed to deal with the problems facing US people at home, and the decline in US power globally.

This call for a “militant international strike” on International Women’s Day on March 8 was written by US activists and academics Linda Martin Alcoff, Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, Nancy Fraser, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Rasmea Yousef Odeh, Angela Davis and Barbara Ransby. It first appeared in Viewpoint Magazine.

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The left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos is planning to hold its second country-wide citizens’ assembly (Vistalegre II) on February 11th-12th to decide the political direction, organisational structure and its electoral strategy for the next regional and general elections.

First Nations-led water protectors have called for mass protests after the US Army Corps of Engineers granted the final approval on February 7 for Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) to resume building the widely opposed Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL).

The approval came after President Donald Trump overturned an Obama administration order to halt construction under Lake Oahe, a large reservoir connected to the Missouri River that provides water to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota and South Dakota.

The Conservative party government’s plan to slash unemployment benefits for disabled people making new claims could leave some unable to afford the essentials of life, opponents warned on February 2.

Under government plans, from April new claimants assessed as fit for work will have their benefits cut by £29.05 to £73.10 a week, the same rate as the jobseeker’s allowance. The government claims the changes will help halve the “disability employment gap” and save the Treasury an estimated £1 billion by 2020-21.

A trade union leader who has been in the forefront of industrial action for more than a month against Sri Lanka’s main telecommunications provider has gone missing after court orders banning protests led by his union.

The wife of M Sujeewa Mangala, the vice-president of the All Ceylon Telecommunication Employees’ Union, has lodged a complaint at a police station in the Colombo suburbs that her husband did not come home on December 29 as expected.

Uprooted Tamil families from Keappaa-pulavu in the predominantly Tamil north-east province of Mullaiththeevu have accused the Sri Lankan military of genocide for depriving them of their land.

Following a series of protests by Tamils, who face systematic discrimination and oppression, Sri Lankan President Maithiripala Sirisena was supposed to release 234 acres of lands to Tamil families last month as a temporary measure.

Farmers, fisherfolk and students across the Indian state of Tamil Nadu have been protesting since January 16 to protect the region’s tradition of Jallikattu (bull taming).

Usually conducted in January during Pongal (harvest) festival, it creates economic gains for farmers across the state of 70.5 million people.

Jallikattu is a 2000-year-old cultural practice in Tamil Nadu, where youth seek to hold on to the hump of a bull as a display of courage. There is evidence of this sport in the ancient literature and in sculptures across the temples in Tamil Nadu.

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