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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Uprising in Sri Lanka: Red Review #65 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Vietnam, Brazil, Ukraine, Sudan, Greece, Panama, Uruguay, the USA and elsewhere.

There is also a section related to the uprising in Sri Lanka.

Scene from the uprising in Sri Lanka, July 9

July 3:

Reports from Colombian human rights organizations indicate that the situation of paramilitary violence continues unabated in Colombia. The Afro-descendent, Indigenous and peasant communities that fight to protect their lands continue to be victims of deadly attacks by illegal armed and drug-trafficking groups operating in the country. On Sunday, July 3, the Institute of Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ) reported the assassination of three Indigenous leaders in a massacre in the Tumaco municipality of the Nariño department.

INDEPAZ reported that Indigenous leaders Juan Orlando Moreano, John Faver Nastacuas and Carlos José García were shot dead by members of an illegal armed group in the afternoon of July 3. Orlando Moreano was the vice-governor of the Indigenous Unity of the Awá Peoples (UNIPA), an Indigenous organization in the Inda Sabaleta reservation, and Faver Nastacuas and José García were members of the Indigenous guard. They were killed in a shooting that happened right after an internal meeting of the community organization concluded. In this meeting, they had analyzed the human rights situation of their people in the zone. In the armed attack, some other members of the community were seriously injured.

The UNIPA condemned and rejected the attack against its members. The UNIPA announced the reactivation of the Humanitarian Minga for the life and dignity of the Awá people. The organization also called on the Ombudsman’s Office, the government of Nariño, the President’s Office for Human Rights, the Attorney General’s Office and other competent agencies to take measures to protect the community. On July 4, dozens of Awá Indigenous people marched from the reservation to the Tumaco morgue, demanding respect for their rights and protection of their community.

According to INDEPAZ, Orlando Moreano, Faver Nastacuas and José García were the 96th, 97th and 98th social leaders to be assassinated in 2022, and the massacre was the 49th massacre of the year.

July 4:

Chile's constitutional convention on Monday handed its proposed new constitution to President Gabriel Boric ahead of a planned September referendum on adopting the text.

The convention, made up of 154 members who are mostly political independents, spent a year creating the new document to replace the constitution adopted during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).

July 5:

The people of Panama continue protests against the high cost of living and to demand government action to resolve the growing economic crisis. The protests began on July 1 to mark three years since the beginning of the government of right-wing president Laurentino Cortizo. Since then, workers, fisherfolk, students, educators, and civilians have braved heavy police repression, staging blockades of key roads and marching in major cities to make their demands to the government heard.

The mobilizations are organized by social movements and trade unions from across diverse sectors of Panamanian society that came together in the People United for Life Alliance including the National Front for the Defense of Economic and Social Rights (FRENADESO) and the Single Union of Construction Workers (SUNTRACS). During a meeting in May, the Alliance created a list of 32 demands “in light of the grave economic, political, and social situation the country is suffering under and the lack of response and attention of the authorities.”

The Eighth Administrative Court of Appeal in Lviv, Ukraine ruled on July 5 to uphold the ban on the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) and ordered the state to seize the properties of the party.

The Eighth Administrative Court of Appeal stated that in their decision: “We inform you that the court has complied with the requests of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine: the activities of the Communist Party of Ukraine are prohibited; the property, funds and other assets of the party, its regional, municipal, district organizations, primary organizations and other structural entities have been transferred to the ownership of the State.”

The move is part of a longer campaign of suppression of the party and its views that intensified following the Euromaidan coup in 2014.

July 6:

Two new polls released on July 6 indicate that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Worker’s Party) is the most likely to win Brazilian presidential elections, followed by sitting far-right President Jair Bolsonaro (Liberal Party).

According to polling organization PoderData, Lula has 44% of voter support, and Bolsonaro has 36%. They are followed by Ciro Gomes (Democratic Labor Party), with 5%, and candidates André Janones (Avante) and Simone Tebet (Brazilian Democratic Movement), both with 3%. Other candidates Luiz Felipe d’Avila (New Party), Pablo Marçal (Republican Party of Social Order), Luciano Bivar (Union Brazil), Leonardo Péricles (Popular Unity), Eymael (Christian Democracy), Sofia Manzano (Brazilian Communist Party), and Vera Lúcia (United Socialist Workers’ Party) did not even reach 1% of voter support. Blank and null votes, which are, respectively, a vote for none of the candidates by pressing a white button or typing a random number, accounted for 5% of respondents. 4% of respondents did not know their answer.

The Federal Oral Court 1 of San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, July 6, sentenced 19 former members of the Army, Gendarmerie, Navy and Police forces to between four years in prison and life imprisonment for crimes committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. Ten of the defendants received life imprisonment and nine others, sentences of between four and 22 years in prison.

They were found guilty of homicide, kidnapping, torture and rape, in a trial known as the “Campo de Mayo mega-case,” a court process that brought together multiple trials and that was named after the military base turned clandestine detention centre where the crimes took place. The trial began on April 29, 2019, and was mostly held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It consisted of 13 cases, where initially 22 defendants, accused of crimes against humanity, were tried. Three of them died during the proceedings, most had already been convicted in other trials for grave human rights violations. During the past three years of the mega-trial, more than 300 witnesses testified.

July 7:

Question and answer exchange from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on July 6, 2022

"The rats are jumping the Johnson ship – but a change of Conservative leaders will not alter the government’s pro-big business, anti-democratic, racist and war mongering agenda", Tony Conway told the Communist Party’s political committee on Tuesday evening (July 5).

As the news of ministerial resignations broke, Britain’s Communists called for a united response from trade unions and campaigning movements to the cost of living, housing, climate change and food crises.

On July 7, thousands of Uruguayan workers went on a 4-hour national strike (from 9 am to 1 pm local time) and mobilized in different parts of the country against the neoliberal economic policies of the right-wing government of President Luis Lacalle Pou.

In the capital Montevideo, workers from different sectors, teachers and students held a massive march from the Independence Plaza to the Legislative Palace in rejection of the national government’s policies that generate inequities in the country and affect the vast majority of the working class.

Only a few hours after the governments of Sweden and Turkey came to their deplorable agreement over Sweden’s NATO membership application, Turkey has requested the extradition of persons living in Sweden with refugee status, these having fled brutal repression in Turkey.

In its pursuit of joining NATO Sweden’s bourgeoisie abandons everything that can be termed as human rights. To become a full member in the imperialist military alliance which is NATO the Swedish government accepts Turkey’s cause as its own. Those who the Turkish government call terrorists the Swedish government shall also call terrorists and join in cooperation against them.

That these are the depths to which the Swedish Social Democratic Party has sunk to in the pursuit of a Swedish NATO membership comes as no surprise to us. The Social Democrats have gone from pretending to be skeptical towards a NATO membership, to doing whatever is necessary to strengthen Swedish monopoly capital’s competitiveness and to secure new markets for it, not least of which are markets for arms export.

Municipal workers in Mount Pearl went on strike shortly after midnight Thursday, with the union focusing its fight on what it calls "inferior benefits" for new employees.

CUPE Local 2099 said more than 200 workers have been in collective bargaining with the city since March.

Ken Turner, president of CUPE 2099, said the union is fighting city plans to implement a "two-tier system" that would involve unacceptably low benefits for new hires.

Starbucks workers at Langley’s Valley Centre, 20151 Fraser Highway, have had their union certification application approved by the British Columbia Labour Relations Board. The workers become the third Starbucks group in B.C. to join the United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 2009. There are 25 workers at the Valley Centre store.

“We at Valley Centre decided to join the union because we believe in supporting each other as a team. Starbucks preaches a team environment, but like every corporation, it is each worker on their own against management,” said Sarah Anderson, a barista at the Valley Centre Starbucks.

“We believe that there are benefits that can only be achieved if we bond together to fight for them. We worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic and have had safety and security issues that the company has not fully addressed. In joining the union, we want to fight for all our partners to get what they deserve – a safe and unified workplace for all.”

July 8:

Sudanese authorities released on Friday two anti-coup figures from the Communist Party a day after their arrest, the party said.

The military’s October takeover in Sudan has sparked nationwide demonstrations which sparked a crackdown that has killed at least 95 protesters and wounded hundreds, medics say.

Hundreds have also been arrested after rallies calling for civilian rule in the northeast African nation.

The supreme court of Brazil has ruled that the Paris Agreement, an international treaty adopted in 2015 to limit global warming to 2°C or, preferably, 1.5°C, is a human rights treaty that must take precedence over national laws. Brazil is the first country to declare such a ruling.

In the case PSB et al. v. Brazil (on Climate Fund) (ADPF 708), Brazil’s supreme court stated that the Paris Agreement is a “supranational” human rights treaty. The case was filed by four political parties (the Workers’ Party, Socialism and Liberty Party, Brazilian Socialist Party and Sustainability Network) after the government failed to distribute money from the national Climate Fund (Fundo Clima) since 2019. The fund was initially set up in 2009.

On 8 July 2022, a quadripartite meeting between the CP of Greece, the CP of Mexico, the CP of the Workers of Spain, and the CP of Turkey was held in Athens, at the headquarters of the CC of the KKE. The opening speech of Dimitris Koutsoumbas, GS of the CC of the KKE reads as follows:

July 9:

Nine Starbucks workers at three stores in Denver, Colorado, who were fired shortly after their stores voted to unionize allege they were dismissed in retaliation for union organizing at the American coffee chain giant.

The firings are among a few dozen cases around the US where workers have alleged they have been fired from the coffee retail chain during a union organizing campaign at their store. More than 180 Starbucks corporate retail stores in the US have voted to unionize, and more than 300 have filed for union elections.

Ryan Dinaro, a shift supervisor at the 16th and Tremont store in Denver who worked at Starbucks for around four years, was fired shortly after his store won their union election in May, along with four other workers at his store, and five others at two other Denver stores according to the union.

Opposition lawmakers have asked the Constitutional Court to annul a recently passed law they say has made it “impossible” for teachers to exercise their right to strike, the co-leader of the Socialist Party said on Saturday.

At the large rally of the KNE in Volos, the following also addressed the gathering: Astor Garcia - General Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of the Workers of Spain, Pavel Blanco - First Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party Mexico and Kemal Okuyan - General Secretary of the CC of the Turkish Communist Party. The keynote speaker of the rally was Nikos Abatiellos, Secretary of the Central Council of the KNE.

July 10:

The organization drive mounted by Starbucks baristas passed a minor milestone last week, as the 300th petition was submitted for a union vote at an individual shop.

That’s still just a tiny portion of the roughly 17,000 locations across the United States. But more petitions are being filed with the National Labor Relations Board each day, and most of the resulting votes have been in favor of unionizing.

July 11:

Revolutionary slogans and music defying the military junta continue to resonate from at least four sit-in protests in Sudan as on Monday, July 11, eleven days after security forces injured over 600 during the landmark anti-coup protests on June 30. Efforts are underway to organize a total civil disobedience campaign and political general strike.

Sudan’s pro-democracy protest movement is arguably at its strongest since the coup on October 25, 2021, and growing despite the continuing attacks on sit-ins and the custodial torture of detainees. The over 5,000 neighborhood Resistance Committees (RCs) across Sudan, which are leading the struggle against the junta, “are working hard to produce a unified political charter”, said Muaz Khalil, spokesperson of the RCs in Al Kalakla Al Quteia neighborhood of capital city Khartoum.

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired a meeting in Hanoi on July 11 between the standing board of the steering committee for the strategy on building and perfecting a rule-of-law socialist State till 2030 with a vision towards 2045, and the Government’s Party Civil Affairs Committee.

The participants contributed opinions on the contents regarding the organisation and operation of the Government, focusing on achievements, limitations, tasks and solutions.

A total of 15 people were arrested for their participation in the kidnapping and murder of professor and revolutionary militant Carlos Lanz in August 2020, Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab reported today.

The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), says it will go on a solidarity strike in support of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and other unions.

Mr Biobelemoye Josiah, MHWUN National President, issued the threat in a statement he jointly signed with Mr Auwalu Kiyawa, Acting Secretary General of the union, on Sunday in Abuja.

The statement is entitled; “MHWUN stands in solidarity with the university based unions in the ongoing struggle to emancipate and reposition the public tertiary Institutions in Nigeria for progressive development’’.

Sri Lanka Uprising:

Massive protests rocked Sri Lanka on Saturday, July 9, leading to a collapse of government. In the morning, tens of thousands of protesters marched to the residence of the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who reportedly fled shortly before. By Saturday evening, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe resigned to make way for the formation of an all-party government. Reports also said the president had agreed to resign.

Uncertainty prevails over the next government in Sri Lanka as hectic negotiations continued over the weekend and on Monday, July 11.

On July 11, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa officially informed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he will step down from his position on Wednesday, July 13.

Rajapaksa, who announced his decision to resign on the mentioned date “to ensure a peaceful transition” had earlier indirectly announced his decision to resign on Saturday, July 9 after thousands of angry protestors stormed the presidential palace.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, whose private residence was set on fire on the night of July 9, has also announced his resignation to pave way for an all-party-led unity government after meeting several party leaders in an emergency meeting as the mass unrest reached the gates of Rajapaksa’s official residence in the national capital, Colombo.

Sri Lanka's main Opposition parties are holding a special party meeting on Sunday to discuss the formation of a new all-party government, amid the unprecedented political turmoil that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to offer their resignations after protesters occupied their homes in fury over the nation's crippling economic crisis.

The meeting of the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and its constituent parties will be attended by the leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Rauff Hakeem, leader of Tamil Progressive Alliance Mano Ganesan and leader of All Ceylon Makkal Congress Rishad Bathiudeen, News First portal reported.

Another meeting of the leaders of nine parties, including the National Freedom Front, is also planned for Sunday to discuss the emerging political situation. Vice President of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka Weerasumana Weerasinghe said that there will be a lengthy discussion about the all-party government.


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