The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 24th February 2001

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Editorial - Outrage!
Lead Story - Arab anger at Baghdad bombing.
Feature - The NHS is not for sale!
International - South Korean police storm factory.
British News - Terrorism Act threatens protesters.



THE bombing of air defence targets on the outskirts of Baghdad by United States and British warplanes is such a blatant and shocking act of big power aggression that protests immediately swept around the world -- including a quickly organised picket at the entrance to Downing Street.

 The mealy-mouthed apologists for this act of imperialist bullying -- Robin Cook, Geoff Hoon, Tony Blair and company -- offered the feeble explanation that Britain had to act in order to protect our planes and aircrews from anti-aircraft fire as they patrolled the skies of Iraq.

 Their whole argument is staggering in its arrogance. First of all the large areas designated as "no-fly zones", covering northern and southern Iraq, were imposed, without any agreement from the United Nations or any other country, by the United States and Britain after the War against Iraq ten years ago.

 The very existence of these no-fly zones is a gross violation of Iraq's sovereignty, and Iraq, like any other country anywhere in the world, is doing what it can to defend its national air space from illegal incursions by foreign military aircraft.

 We say that if our government is so concerned about British aircrews' safely it should bring them home and end it's years of aggression against Iraq.

 In fact the national and world-wide protests have put Anglo-American policy towards Iraq once more under the spotlight. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are giving us another blast of anti-Iraq propaganda as they struggle to explain themselves away.

 Once again the imperialist powers are asserting that the no-fly zones are needed "to prevent Saddam Hussein from murdering his own people" -- a staggering statement given that it iss coming from the very governments which blanket-bombed Iraq and went on to bring death through sanctions to millions of Iraqis.

 The imperialist powers assert that the northern no-fly zone is in place to protect the Kurdish people who live in the north of Iraq. And yet the imperialist powers had little to say when Turkish troops invaded northern Iraq as part of their own action against the Kurdish people, and Turkey is not condemned for its ill treatment of Kurds inside Turkey. But then Turkey is a Nato partner and a useful strategic base for imperialism.

 And of course there's not much said about the oil deposits in northern Iraq -- deposits the West does not want Iraq to control while the government of Iraq remains off the imperialist leash.

 The bottom line of Anglo-American propaganda against Iraq is the image of Saddam Hussein as some kind of political mad axeman -- a bloodthirsty beast who must be kept in a cage. It is an image used down the years by colonial rulers to justify repression, troops and killing.

 Iraq's neighbours give the lie to all this nonsense. Britain and America just went out and dropped their bombs -- they were not asked to do this by the Kurds, the Marsh Arabs, Iran or even the puppet princes of Kuwait.

 Indeed, the Arab world is outraged by the treatment of Iraq -- the Arabs throughout the region are on the streets burning the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack.

 Many here see Bush and Blair as the murderers and believe that George Bush is trying to prove his Presidential virility. These latest actions are also regarded as a ham-fisted attempt to intimidate the Palestinians and any Arabs who take up their cause.

 Progressive people across the world will have none of this. We should step up our protests at both the US embassy and at Downing Street. We call for an end to all bombing, the withdrawal of British warplanes and crews, an end to the no-fly zones and an end to all sanctions against Iraq.

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Lead Story

Arab anger at Baghdad bombing

by Our Middle East Affairs correspondent

ANGRY ARABS are demonstrating throughout the Arab world against the latest crimes of Anglo-American imperialism. Last Friday's bombing of Baghdad, ordered by President Bush and backed up by Tony Blair, sparked off anti-Western protests from Morocco to the Arab Gulf.

 Everyone knows on the Arab street that Bush's guns are blazing to reassure his Israeli pawns and America's Arab quislings that the US imperialism is still the master regardless of what is happening in Palestine.

 But if that was the intention it has failed dismally. In Iraq the people took to the streets in defiance ofthe USAF and RAF to close ranks around the government of Saddam Hussein. And in the rest of the Arab world anger against US and British imperialism is reaching boiling point.

Crime against humanity

 Campaigning Labour MP George Galloway rushed to Baghdad immediately to show his solidarity with the Iraqi peopie.

 "It is a crime against humanity," he told the Baghdad press while visiting the wounded in hospital Sunday morning. The Anglo-American air-raids were "reckless, lawless and murderous".

 There was no legal authority for the attacks or the so-called "no-fly" zones enforced by the RAF and the US air force over northern and southern Iraq he said. Galloway "utterly" rejected the US and British claims that the attacks were justified because Iraq's air-defences had been stepped up in the "no-fly" zones.

 "The truth is, as everyone knows it, that Iraq's anti-aircraft fire is pitifully inadequate to the task of combating the high-tech US and British military jets," he said.

All victims civilians

 Two Iraqis were killed and 20 others injured in the air-raids last Friday. Ten ofthe wounded are being cared for at the Al-Yarmuk hospital in western Baghdad. Najeeb Jabbo, a surgeon, told Chinese lournalists that they included women and children. "All of them are civilians" he said.

 Ali Baham Ramadan, a wounded college student, was one of them.

 "I was walking in the street with my mother and sister when the attack came," he said. His mother and sister are in the same hospital being treated for their injuries. His mother's condition is serious.

China condemns attacks

People's China denounced the Anglo-Amencan air-strikes and called for a halt to all further military actions against Iraq.

 A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said: "We condemn the air attacks launched by the United States and Britain against Iraq, and express deep regret over the deaths and injuries of innocent civilians resulting from the action".

 He said China has always maintained that Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence should be respected. The US and British bombing in Iraq will harm the international community's efforts to solve the issue of Iraq.

 The spokesman called on the United States and Britain to stop their military actions in Iraq immediately to create a favourable atmosphere for the forthcoming dialogue between Iraq and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

 France and Russia, like China permanent members of the UN Security Council, criticised the bombings. Both countries said these actions did nothing to solve the problem.

Iraq defiant

 Back in Baghdad the Iraqi government warned it was considering retaliation for this new aggression. President Saddam Hussein called an emergency meeting of his cabinet which discussed the "American aggression and military measures and plans that should be taken to retaliate against America and those who render facilities to it in case the aggression is repeated".

 And Iraq's press was blunter. In the official daily Qadissiya, said "The Americans' and British new, savage crime will not pass unpunished and without decisive retaliation."

 "We will teach the new American administration and the Zionist entity lessons on holy war and steadfastness. We will fight them in the air, on land and sea and their aggression will achieve nothing but failure"

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The NHS is not for sale!

by Renee Sams

TWO WORKERS From the Dudley Hospital, where 600 workers are taking strike action, received an enthusiastic welcome at a meeting last Thursday held in the Jagonari Centre, east London.

 Karen Smith told a packed meeting that their strike, which is against privatisation in the NHS, is now in its seventh month.

 The public sector union Uni son had spent two years in negotiations but the managers of the Dudley group of hospitals refused to listen.

 The Private Finance Initiative project involved the closure of one hospital and all the wards at another, leaving Dudley with 70 fewer beds at a time when the Government has identified the need for more.

 It also means the loss of 150 jobs but it was stressed that this struggle is not so much about saving jobs, more about saving the NHS itself.

 The meeting was organised by the Barts and London NHS hospitals health workers' branch of Unison as part of the campaign against the imposition of a PFI scheme at the London Hospital.

 Branch secretary Philip Billowes told the meeting the east London health workers are supporting the Dudley strikers "because they are leading the most significant fight against PFI".

 The branch has already donated £l,500 to the Dudley strikers and then raised another £1,500 to help continue the struggle.

no hesitation

 He had no hesitation in saying: "PFI is money laundering on a grand scale, a scale that the Russian mafia would be proud of. If the Kray twins were still around, they would be running PFI schemes."

 Local general practitioner Dr Kambiz Boomla felt that over the past year or so there had been a change of mood among health workers. "People are always saying NO to privatisation, in schools, hospitals, on the Tube and the railways."

 He recalled: "it was on 5 July, 1948 that the NHS came into being and there were no more collecting tins for hospitals. There was free healthcare for all," Dr Boomla said.

 "And it was so popular there was a mile-long queue of people trying to get copies of the Beveridge report. Some 70,000 copies were sold in the first few hours.

 "For the first time, healthcare had been taken out of the private sector and hospitals and the buildings were publicly owned and controlled.

"Once PFI comes in," he said, if you have no control over the buildings, the privatisation begins to take over and eventually all of it ends up privatised."

 Unison regional officer Geoff Martin told the meeting: "The Government has approved PFl projects for five London hospitals, which they say is part of a plan to increase beds in these hospitals. But every PFI, without exception, has resulted in a reduction of beds and services."

 He also warned that PFI "leads to a decline in staff morale, as short term contracts mean a worsening of terms and conditions and insecurity for the workers.

 The London trust is complaining that there is not enough accommodation for more staff. It wants to put up a hotel and charge staff £35 a night.

 Geoff pointed out that in fact there is plenty of accommodation, just over the road from the Jagonari Centre is a whole row of houses that have been empty for years and just left to rot.

 "They are not serious in providing accommodation forstaff," he said.

 Geoff also told the meeting that some staff at the London Hospital had reported that some managers and supervisors had tried to prevent them coming to this meeting, telling them that it was not official.

 "But," Geoff said, "I am speaking here as a Unison official and the union is in full support of this campaign to stop the privatisation of hospitals."

 He said the Government is always highlighting the escalating costs of healthcare but always seems to be able to find the money for something they have decided to support, like the Dome, which absorbed millions of pounds.

 "We must call their bluff," he stressed, "and build the campaign and bring together the community, those who use the hospital and the staff to demand the care and services that Londoners deserve.

Turning to the Dudley strikers, he said: "They must not be left to fight alone," and he emphasised the need to make connections with those fighting against the privatisation of London's Underground, for safety on the railways and against PFI in council housing.

 The Barts and London Unison branch is laying on a coach to support the Dudley Hospitals Unison demonstration on Saturday 3 March in Chamberlain Square, Birmingham and they call on everybody who can to support that demonstration.

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South Korean police storm factory

THOUSANDS of tooled-up south Korean riot police stormed Daewoo's main plant in south Korea on Monday to smash a four-day sit-in protest by 500 sacked workers.

 Four bulldozers were used to smash the front gate at the plant at Bupyong, 30 km west of Seoul. Workers demanding that the company withdraw the lay-off notices to 1,750 workers fought back with rocks and steel pipes behind makeshift barricades and burning tyres.

 Fifty workers were arrested by the police who had warrants for 32 union leaders. Though the police scoured the factory looking for the wanted activists some had already escaped.

 Daewoo management claim the cuts are needed to make the bankrupt corporation more attractive to would-be buyers like General Motors, which is in bailout negotiations now.

 But this is dismissed by the work-force and the leadership of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions (KFTU) which is backing the Daewoo workers to the hilt.

 At a mass meeting on Tuesday called in protest at the police violence tempers were riding high. A police bus was torched and one policeman injured in the fighting.

 KFTU leader Dan Byung Ho told the rally that Daewoo boss Kim Woo Chung was to blame for his company's crisis along with the corrupt politicians who were in league with him. The workers had been "chased into dead end" he said, demanding the cancellation of the lay-offs and the release of the arrested workers.

 * Last week the south Korean government stated that it expected unemployment to go over the million mark in February. Figures released by the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) put the number out of work in south Korea at just above 900,000 in January 2001.

 MOFE said it expected the figure to reach more than one million this month with the overall unemployment rate risIng above 4 per cent.

 Official unemployment statistics in south Korea underestimate the real situation as there is no national employment or welfare agency that registers those out-of-work or only employed part time.

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British News

Terrorism Act threatens protesters

by Daphne Liddle

THE TERRORISM Act, passed by Parliament last week, will outlaw support for parties and organisations deemed by the British and American governments as terrorist.

 It began as a measure to tidy up the Prevention of Terrorism Act passed as a temporary emergency Act during the 1970s to suppress the Irish liberation struggle and has been renewed regularly ever since.

 At the time, the PTA was considered a necessary but short term curtailment of civil liberties.

 The new Act makes that curtailment permanent and extends it by widening the definition of terrorism to include threats of violence against people and property.

 The old PTA outlawed a number of Irish organisations on a purely political definition of terrorism.

 Now, people working for any "political, religious or ideological" group that has been outlawed could be arrested.

 This means the law could be applied to environmental and animal rights groups.

 The Government has yet to decide on the full list of groups which will be banned but it is closely studying the American State Department list of nearly 40 "designated organisations".

 These include groups like Hizbollah, the Peruvian Shining Path, the PKK Kurdish Workers' Party and the Turkish People's Liberation Front.

 Recently London has witnessed powerful peaceful mass demonstrations by supporters of the Palestinian Right to Return, the Kurdish community demanding the release of their leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish comrades trying to shake the conscience of the world over the obscene massacres and brutalities that are happening inside Turkish prisons to political prisoners.

 The supporters of all these causes could find themselves in breach of the law and end up either deported back to face prison, torture and death under fascist regimes or held as political prisoners in Britain.

 The pressure group Liberty has pointed out that this Act would have made it illegal to support Nelson Mandela because he was part of the armed struggle against the apartheid regime.

 It would have outlawed support for anti-fascists in Germany in the 1930s.

 A group of eco-warriors last week handed in a "time-bomb" -- a genetically modified plant in a plastic container, as part of a protest at the House of Commons last week.

 They pointed out that the new Act would outlaw many of their activities which are against property.

 They also point out that it would have outlawed the activities of Emmeline Pankhurst and hung a placard saying "Terrorist" around her statue in the nearby Victoria Tower Gardens.

 Of course. many of the activities of the suffragettes were outlawed at the time. They defied repeated imprisonment and eventually changed the law.

 Once an organisation has been added to the banned list, it will be an offence to support it financially, to display its emblems in public or to share a platform at a meeting of three people or more, either public or private, with someone belonging to it.

 Lenin and the Bolsheviks often faced bans of this nature from the Tsarist state. They got round them by simply changing the name of the organisation whenever a ban was issued.

 The new Act is evidence that the class war, globally and in Britain, is sharpening.

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