Friday, January 10, 2020

Cyprus must not get involved in US-Israel-Saudi Arabia warmongering plans

Statement by AKEL C.C. Spokesperson Stefanos Stefanou on developments in the Middle East
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 9th January 2020, Nicosia
Developments in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean are causing concern among the peoples of our neighborhood and all over the world. At the same time they provoke justified outrage because the offender is once again the same. The offender is the United States that in the previous years has together with its allies steeped Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria in blood. Today they are yet again targeting Iran.
NATO’s deeper involvement in the Middle East – as the US President and NATO Secretary-General announced yesterday – will only add new dangers. The continuation of the foreign interventions in the Middle East and the escalation of tension will trigger uncontrolled and dangerous situations with the prospect of a new war in the Middle East visible; a war that the countries and peoples of our neighborhood will pay the heavy price for with blood, suffering and a new uprooting and displacement of the peoples.
Cyprus will find itself targeted if it is involved in any way whatsoever in the warmongering plans of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran and other states and peoples of our neighborhood.
Those forces and circles who claim that Cyprus’ accession to the US-NATO war machine – as sealed by the notorious Menendez-Rubio bill – strengthens our country, must give explanations to the Cypriot people about the dangers that are being created for our country and its security.
As for the provision of facilities that the Anastasiades government has decided to grant to the American forces, we express the hope that these are truly about what the government is stating, namely, for the evacuation of diplomatic missions from neighbouring countries. They mustn’t be or evolve into anything else that might involve our country in dangers.
Our people’s interest lies in peace and the defence of international law, and not by choosing which camp to belong to, and in particular to Donald Trump’s camp, which literally represents a danger to the whole world. This is what must guide the foreign policy of our country.
AKEL joins its voice with the peoples of our region, with the peace movements in Europe, the US, Israel and around the world that are demanding respect for international law and the sovereignty of states, global nuclear disarmament and lasting peace.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Statement by the AKEL Environmental Bureau on the COP25 UN climate change conference and 2019 “European Green Deal”

AKEL C.C. Press Office, 16th December 2019, Nicosia
The disappointment with the results of the talks on the climate could not be better illustrated than by the words of the UN Secretary-General himself. Mr. Guterres said that “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.” The only outcome after two weeks of talks was the official recognition of the need to bridge the gap between the 2015 greenhouse gas targets set in Paris and the scientific data that demand much larger cuts.
The majority of the Summit’s time was wasted om the issue of creating a mechanism that would allow richer countries and companies to buy from poorer emission pollution rights and in doing so be relieved of the obligation to make the necessary reductions. It is now proven that such efforts to resolve the environmental problem with solutions that serve the interests of the rich countries through carbon trading have not only not improved the situation, but have made it worse.
The EU is committed to climate neutrality by 2050. Despite the fact it is claiming that it is promoting investment in environmental protection, there is no reference whatsoever to climate justice, to the way poorer states should be supported and at the same time the EU is introducing new “green” taxes.
The absence of an agreement for yet another year, condemns hundreds of millions of people to the effects of climate change. The US, Brazil, India and China have refused to support even more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. The biggest danger comes from the US who have withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, following the decision taken by Donald Trump, who has already called global warming a “farce”.
Unfortunately, so long as a global agreement isn’t concluded and international cooperation is mainly forged, the UN Climate Summits will achieve the same result every year. The solution to the economic, social, political and environmental problem is a single interconnected issue and a collective effort is demanded to solve it, with real commitments and radical changes.
Cyprus must contribute its own share in the increase of the percentage of renewable energy from Renewable Energy Sources, in protecting areas of significant biodiversity, taking all those measures that will protect our country from the effects of climate change. It is not enough for the Anastasiades-DISY government to pompously present initiatives for climate action while remaining bottom of the table regarding Renewable Energy Sources and energy saving issues. We note that as Cyprus we are paying fines and are bottom of the table as regards the implementation of environmental legislation in our country.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

MK Odeh: No FM Will Change the Fact — The Settlements Were Built on Occupied Palestinian Land

The American foreign minister, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced on Monday, November 18, that the US is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Pompeo renounced a 1978 State Department legal opinion, known as the Hansell Memorandum, that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” Pompeo said. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”
Pompeo’s announcement is the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that have weakened Palestinian claims to statehood and efforts to reach a negotiated including Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the movement of the US Embassy to that city and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.
Monday’s move angered Palestinians and immediately put the US at odds with other nations working to end the conflict. Spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, condemned Pompeo’s announcement and said settlements are illegal under International law. “The US administration has lost its credibility to play any future role in the peace process,” he said.
Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Saeb Erekat slammed the announcement by Pompeo, saying that the Trump administration has “completely lost all credibility and no longer has any role in the peace process,” the Jerusalem Post reported. Erekat stressed that the US administration has put itself on the side of extremist-settlers and is defending the private settlement interests of some of its own officials.
In a statement released to the press on Monday evening, Erakat called on the advisers of the US administration to review the provisions of international law and international humanitarian law, and said: “All the tools of international law condemn settlement, starting with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of civilian population to the occupied territory, passing through The Rome Statute, which considers settlement as a war crime, the ICJ’s [International Court of Justice’s] advisory opinion, and the recent decision of the European Court of Justice, with its documented legal competencies, confirms this clear position of all instruments of international law regarding settlements, which is irrefutable or uncertain.
“The United States is looking at this and other positions in many areas and in various regions of the world, and is putting itself in direct defiance of international law and international will, and trying to undermine its pillars and replace it with the law of the jungle, and thus eliminates its role as a responsible international player and factor acceptable in solving international crises.”
Erekat called on the international community to respond to these illegal declarations. “Because this behavior poses a threat to international stability, the international community is required to address it, and hold the US administration accountable for these flagrant and continuing violations of international law and consensus, and the rumors that could lead to chaos and turmoil in the relations between the nations of the world.”
In Jordan, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine were in breach of international law and international legitimacy, a measure that would kill the two-state solution and undermine chances for a comprehensive peace. Safadi, in a tweet on Monday evening, saud that the Kingdom’s position in condemning the settlements firmly fixed, warning of the seriousness of the change in the US position on the settlements and its implications for all efforts to achieve peace.
The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal. This is based in part on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bars an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to occupied territory.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement on Monday night that the EU still believes that Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law and reduces the chances of a lasting peace. “The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity in the light of its obligations as an occupying power,” said Mogherini.
“Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal,” declared US Senator Bernie Sanders following the announcement by the US Secretary of State. “This is clear from international law and the various UN resolutions,” said Sanders, a leading candidate for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. “Once again, Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy, by appeasing his extremist base.” Just three years ago, in the final days of the Obama administration, the US allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution declaring the settlements a “flagrant violation” of international law.
Even though the latest US decision is largely symbolic, it could give a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after he was unable to form a coalition government following recent elections. The Netanyahu government was dealt a blow on settlements just last week when the European Court of Justice ruled products made in Israeli settlements must be labeled as such.
Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List tweeted in response to Pompeo’s announcement Monday: “No foreign minister will change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied land on which an independent Palestinian state will be established alongside the State of Israel.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Iraqi Communist Party : Victory to the People’s Uprising

Statement of the Iraqi CP’s Central Committee (on 15th November 2019):

The uprising of our people did not start last month and made enormous sacrifices in pursuit of partial solutions or cosmetic reforms, but directly raised the goal of salvation from the existing system of governance, the power-sharing quota policy in all its forms and the rampant corruption. It has clearly declared that the time for comprehensive change has come, and that it is necessary to launch a new phase in the country's march and open up the way for the establishment of a state based on citizenship, true democracy and social justice.
After all the deliberate killings and the bloodshed in an unprecedented brutal and horrific manner, with hundreds of peaceful protesters and security forces injured, and campaigns of detention, kidnapping and forced ‘disappearance’, and after the support for the valiant people's uprising from various popular and social sections, as well as professional, trade union and religious organisations .. After all this, the peaceful protesters are adamant that there will be no return to what had existed prior to 1st October 2019.
We stress that any procrastination or delay by the Government, the Parliament and dominant ruling forces in complying with the demand for real change, will only inflict harm on our people and our country.
While noting that the Uprising, which is effectively an unparalleled popular referendum, has entered its 45th day with great momentum and vigour, and with great determination to achieve its objectives, we reiterate support for it by all peaceful means, and reaffirm the demands we already made:
  1. The resignation or dismissal of the existing government in accordance with constitutional procedures. There should be no more excuses given in order to cling to power.
  2. To start the formation of a new government composed of competent, impartial and national figures who are known for integrity. This government should have exceptional powers and be formed away from the abhorrent quota system and corruption and in accordance with the Constitution. Its term should not exceed the period necessary to prepare the requirements for transition, and in all cases not more than six months.
  3. The President of the Republic, in accordance with the Constitution, shall immediately take the necessary steps to select the Prime Minister, on the basis of criteria of patriotism, competence, integrity, independence and decision-making ability away from regional tendency, political sectarianism and narrow partisanship.
  4. The principal functions of the new Government should be:
A- To accomplish the immediate and urgent steps to secure the people's livelihood and satisfy their urgent needs, and implement the economic and social demands of the participants in the Uprising.
B- To bring just retribution to those who committed the crimes of killing the demonstrators and those who issued orders to them. To release all the ‘disappeared’, the detainees and the kidnapped, and to stop the campaigns of pusuing and harassing other participants in the Uprising.
C- To act on the cases of corruption, starting with the worst cases, to bring the corrupt to justice and recover the looted money.
D- To prepare for early elections provided that it is preceded by:
  1. Legislating a new democratic and fair electoral law, which enshrines the principle of citizenship, expands representation and convinces citizens about the importance of elections and participation in them. This law must not be formulated to please the ruling blocs.
  2. Amending the Political Parties Law to ensure a healthy democratic political life, and to effectively implement the provisions that do not allow having armed wings. Transparency regarding the financial resources of the parties must be ensured.
  3. Electing a new High Electoral Commission, which is truly independent, composed of qualified individuals from outside political parties and blocs, and is supervised by the judiciary.
  4. Ensuring effective international supervision.
Upon completion of the above tasks and legislations, the Parliament must dissolve itself. The Government would then be a caretaker government. The constitutional amendments that need to be made will then be one of the first tasks of the new elected Parliament.
E- To restrict the possession of weapons by the State.
F- To preserve the sovereignty of the Iraqi state, ensure the independence of national decision-making and prevent external interference in its affairs.

Let us work diligently to sustain the momentum of the peaceful Uprising until its objectives, the goals of the people, have been fully realized.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Postal workers issue ‘call to arms’ after court bars workers from their right to strike

The Communication Workers' Union says the judgment is a ‘genuine outrage’

The Royal Courts of Justice
Photo: David Castor/Creative Commons

POSTAL workers issued a “call to arms” to the trade union movement today after a court barred workers from striking against the casualisation of the Royal Mail.
After a two-day hearing at the Royal Court of Justice, Mr Justice Swift ruled today in favour of a Royal Mail application to stop Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) members from going on strike.
The CWU sent out a brief tweet immediately after the ruling, saying: “Genuinely this is an utter outrage. 110,000 workers vs the establishment.”
Mr Justice Swift said the CWU’s actions amounted to “improper interference” with the vote on strike action.
He said: “What the CWU did in this case was … a form of subversion of the ballot process.”
The judge said the union “took advantage” of members’ employment as postal workers to “encourage” them to take their voting papers from work before they were delivered to their homes and vote while in the workplace.
CWU members overwhelmingly supported taking action, with 97 per cent voting to strike on a turnout of 75 per cent.
It was one of the largest votes for industrial action in history and was only the third time that the threshold for national strike action set by the 2016 Trade Union Act was met.
The dispute is related to concerns amongst Royal Mail employees about the 2018 Four Pillars Agreement.
The agreement established a common understanding between workers and management over securing the future of the postal service, preserving decent pensions and working conditions and to move towards a 35-hour working week.
CWU members have expressed serious concerns that their management are not respecting the agreement and that a culture of bullying is being cultivated in depots and sorting offices across the country.
But Royal Mail claimed in court that the ballot was unlawful and has said that CWU officials “planned and orchestrated” breaches of industrial-relations law during the balloting process.
Royal Mail’s lawyers told the court that CWU officials and activists encouraged their members to intercept their ballot papers at work, vote immediately, then share footage and images of themselves sending off their votes on social media.
They also accused union officials of interfering with the ballot and alleged that there was a “de facto workplace ballot” — which would go against industrial actions law requiring that ballots must be cast in a worker’s home.
A Royal Mail statement admitted last week that it launched the challenge “because of the damage industrial action would do to the company and its customers in the run-up to Christmas.”
Following the result, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said that postal workers are “extremely angry” and “bitterly disappointed that one judge has granted Royal Mail an injunction to invalidate our ballot for strike action.”
Pointing out that not a single one of the 110,000 workers who were balloted complained to Royal Mail or independent scrutineers about the ballot, Mr Ward said: “This injunction is not only a massive injustice to our members — it’s also an injustice to every worker in the country.
“We all need to wake up and recognise that this Tory government has deliberately stacked the rules against workers in favour of the constituency they were born to serve — which is big business and the establishment.
“We appeal to the TUC and workers everywhere — in what is a call to arms — that it’s time for us to fundamentally shift the balance of forces in this country back to working people and remove these draconian laws once and for all.”
Mr Ward also told Royal Mail CEO Rico Back that this is not the end of the CWU’s fight, warning him: “You cannot face away from the reality that your victory in this court will be short-lived.
“You cannot face away from the reality that you have completely lost the confidence of the workforce and as a result there is no way you will ever be able to fully implement your plans for the future.”
He reassured CWU members that the union will be “doing everything” in its power to oppose both the decision and the company’s plans to casualise Royal Mail and will not only appeal the judgement but will launch a campaign against the company.
Royal Mail’s managing director of regulation and corporate affairs Shane O’Riordain said: “We are very pleased with the outcome today.”

Labour backs Living Rent's campaign to end universal credit evictions

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and 
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard

LABOUR became the first major political party to pledge support for Living Rent’s campaign against evictions caused by universal credit tonight.
British party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Scottish counterpart Richard Leonard joined the Scottish tenants’ union in calling on housing associations to ensure no tenant faces eviction due to arrears caused by the benefit.
Mr Leonard said the campaign had Labour’s “unwavering support.”
“The fact that people suffering under the cruel policy of universal credit are being forced into debt and threatened with eviction is absolutely shocking,” he said.
“In power, Labour will immediately scrap this inhumane policy that has seen poverty and rent arrears soar across local authorities.
“The Living Rent campaign has Labour’s unwavering support on this matter and we call on Nicola Sturgeon to do all she can to help those tenants threatened with eviction.
“When elected, Labour will tackle the substandard state of housing in this country and eradicate the poverty that goes hand in hand with it.
“We will implement a Mary Barbour law to regulate our overpriced private renting sector and we will commit to build 12,000 social homes a year in Scotland.
“Labour will stand up for tenants in the face of profit-hungry private landlords because Labour is on the side of the many, not the few.”
Living Rent argues that the controversial benefit scheme disproportionately affects tenants and leads to arrears resulting in eviction and destitution.
Research from four federations of housing associations across the UK revealed that 73 per cent of tenants in receipt of universal credit are in debt.
And a survey by the Unite union found 42 per cent of universal credit claimants had used foodbanks due to deprivation caused by the benefit and 70 per cent had skipped meals.
Living Rent organiser David Hanson told the Star the group was “overwhelmed that, in just a few short weeks since our campaign began, it has already been recognised by the leader of the Labour Party.”
He said: “The scourge of universal credit and its accompanying miseries of debt, eviction and destitution is a UK-wide problem, one that in Glasgow we are fighting against in the heart of our communities.
“While we don’t know if or when universal credit will be scrapped, it is clear now that if housing associations plan to tackle its worst effects, they must commit to a policy of no universal credit evictions.”
The Labour Party has already pledged to scrap universal credit as part of an overhaul of Britain’s benefit system.
Living Rent outreach liaison officer Enas Magzoub said: “It’s great to see the Labour Party backing us in this. It really goes to show that, just because there’s an election on, we can’t put the grassroots campaigns on the back burner.
“We still need to work for immediate change now, not just in four weeks’ time.
“Labour’s support of Living Rent demonstrates their commitment to ordinary, struggling people, instead of rogue landlords and greedy letting agents.
“Universal credit has been proven to be a complete disaster.
“We face the very real prospect that people will be forced from their homes due to rent arrears caused by a poorly thought-out system.
“These people cannot afford to wait for weeks while their payments come in.”

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Tudeh Party of Iran condemns the right-wing coup d’├ętat in Bolivia: Bolivian President Evo Morales resigns following right-wing coup

Last Sunday, Evo Morales, Bolivia's leftist president, announced that he was stepping down from his position to calm down the political climate in the country. Violent demonstrations and riots have been taking place in Bolivia since the general election of MPs, Senators, President and his deputy on 20th October. The opposition have alleged that electoral fraud and vote-rigging took place. The country’s Electoral Monitoring Committee announced that Evo Morales won the election with 47.1% of the votes and there was no need for a second round.Morales secured more than 40% of the electorate’s vote and there was also more than a 10% margin between him and his nearest challenger (who secured 36.5% of the vote) as stipulated under the electoral rules in Bolivia.
However, supporters of Morales’s main rival, the former Bolivian President, Carlos Mesa, claimed even before the announcement of the final result that the election had been rigged and should be taken to the second round and began to whip-up public protest demonstrations. The Western and especially American media also began to report on election fraud and ballot rigging on the day of the General Election.
Following the escalation of the protests, Morales first called for talks with the opposition parties,but they rejected negotiation. He then accepted the recommendation of the Organisation of American States to null and void the results and hold the election again. However, following continuing violence against activists and leaders of the Movement towards Socialism (Morales's own political organisation), kidnapping, intimidation of journalists, and the damaging and burning down of the homes of government officials and their families (including Morales’s sister) by the protesters, together with the request from the Commander of the Bolivian Armed Forces, Morales announced last Sunday night that both he and his deputy would step down to prevent further violence and for the restoration of peace and calm.
"I decided to resign so that Carlos Mesa ... stopped harassing thousands of people ... My job is to keep the peace and the conflict between Bolivians hurts me" he said in a press statement. “We will fight for equality and peace.”“Struggle continues. This is not the end. If the IMF policies return to Bolivia, it will be worse for Bolivia" he wrote in a tweet released the same day. Along with the resignation of Evo Morales and his deputy, the Speaker of the Senate (who would be acting president under the constitution) resigned. A number of ministers and MPs also resigned. As such, a vacuum has formed in the Bolivian state apparatus that is likely to be seized upon by the opposition.

Evo Morales said in a tweet early Monday morning: "Mesa and Camacho, opposition leaders, conspirators and agitators for sowing division, will go down in history as racists and coup plotters...they bear full responsibility to calm the country and guarantee and ensure political stability and peaceful co-existence between the people. The world and the patriots of Bolivia reject the coup... They [the coup plotters] are lying when they blame us for the turmoil and violence that they themselves have created. "

Evo Morales was first elected as to the presidency in 2005, and then re-elected three times in subsequent elections, serving as the Bolivian President for a total of 13 years. He was the first Bolivian president to hail from the indigenous (or so-called Indian) population of the country.

He regarded himself and his government at the service of the toiling masses and was oriented towards socialism. Morales has carried out many socio-economic projects during his presidency since 2006 for the benefit of the working and poor people. Bolivia's economy improved greatly in a variety of areas, including in the transportation industry, industrialisation and energy production, so much so that its GDP had tripled by 2013. During Morales' presidency, poverty fell by 42% and extreme poverty was reduced by 60%. By implementing popular economic policies, Morales’ governments increased the public services expenditure by 750% in the first nine years of his presidency, resulting in the construction of large numbers of schools, gymnasiums and medical clinics.

Bolivia is one of the countries with the highest increases in real minimum wage in Latin America and its per-capita income growth rate is twice that of Latin America’s average. The food security policies of the Morales governments, providing the people with their needs, is exemplary among Latin American countries. During Morales’ presidency, these domestic policies, as well as Bolivia's foreign policy in defence of peace and national sovereignty, did not please the right-wing forces inside and outside Bolivia. Diplomatic relations between the United States and Bolivia have also been cut at ambassadorial level since 2009.

A number of leaders and international organisations have expressed their solidarity with Morales. Alberto Fernandez, the Argentine president elect, called Morales' resignation "a coup against the president". And he said: "We, the defenders of democratic institutions, condemn the blatant violence that altered the electoral process and prevented Evo Morales' presidency to complete its course”.

Former Brazilian President, Lula, who was recently released from prison, condemned the coup against Morales which forced him to resign. The governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America also issued messages condemning the coup by the right-wing forces and stating their support for the Morales government.

The Cuban foreign minister, while expressing solidarity with Morales, also called for "a global mobilisation to defend the life and liberty of Evo Morales". In Europe, both Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party, and Jean-Luc Melanchon, the left-wing leader of France Unbowed Party, condemned what had taken place as a coup against the people of Bolivia and Morales.

According to the “Entekhab” news portal in Iran, referring to recent events in his country, the Bolivian ambassador in Tehran, said that "the coup in Bolivia has fascistic colours and that Evo Morales’s life is in danger”. Meanwhile, the right-wing forces in Brazil and Chile and their American counterparts have welcomed what is happening in Bolivia.

In a Twitter message on Monday morning, Evo Morales thanked his supporters in Bolivia and abroad for their solidarity and wrote: "Very grateful to the solidarity of the people, brothers from Bolivia and the world who communicate with recommendations, suggestions and expressions of recognition that give us encouragement, strength and energy. These messages have deeply affected me and brought tears to my eyes. They never abandoned me, and I will never abandon them”.

The Tudeh Party of Iran, alongside progressive forces from around the world, condemns this new coup attempt undertaken by the right-wing force in Latin America, this time against the president Evo Morales, the elected president of Bolivia's people, and his government.The Party expressesits solidarity with the people of Bolivia, the Communist Party of Bolivia, and other Bolivian and Latin American progressives in their struggle to continue the process for the realisation of democracy, social justice and independence.

The Tudeh Party of Iran
Monday 11 November 2019