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US / Afghan Crisis: CWI Reports From Around The World
THE SOCIALIST has carried reports - mainly from our sister party in the USA, Socialist Alternative - on working people's reactions to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and also our interventions in the growing anti-war movement.
Below are brief reports on the aftermath to the attacks from other sections of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI).
Commonwealth Of Independent States (CWI-CIS)
"PRESIDENT PUTIN'S first reaction to the World Trade Centre (WTC) attack was almost gloating", reports Rob Jones, from Moscow. "He and the head of the FSB [the successor to the KGB] police both appeared on television saying that his campaign against 'Islamic fundamentalism' was justified.
"CWI members went to the republic of Ingushetia on the weekend after the WTC attacks to intervene in the Chechen National Congress. This was due to be attended by several hundred Chechens, mainly refugees, and the organisers directly invited us. It was to argue for an end to the war in Chechnya and for a joint struggle of all nationalities in Russia for their rights.
"On arriving at the airport in Ingushetia, we were met by the FSB. In all, over 350 people were arrested that weekend to prevent the congress being held and our comrades only escaped arrest due to the intervention of a leading human rights activist."
France (Gauche Revolutionnaire)
"THE MOOD of the French population is changing", reports Alex. "First, there was a feeling of horror. In Rouen the local fire fighters raised 40,000 FF (about £4,000) for the New York firefighters. But also a lot of people thought that the bombings were a 'logical' consequence of US imperialist policy.
"There is now a dominant feeling of being fed up talking about the US events. An increasing issue of public concern is the plight of the Afghan people, their poverty and oppression.
"We had a successful intervention on a demonstration in Paris on 22 September called by an artists' group, at which there was an incredible thirst for left-wing material.
"The main slogan is against war, but we have also to raise the issue of racism, something our comrades from North African and African backgrounds have already had to deal with.
"The Communist Party (CP) has a wrong position of supporting the US government. Indeed, during the l'Humanite [CP daily newspaper] Festival, communist activists refused to follow the minute silence call by the CP national bureau.
"Also, the explosion in Toulouse is front page news. On Friday 21 September the French town of Toulouse was rocked by a devastating chemical explosion. Two production halls of the AZF fertiliser factory, a subsidiary of AtoFina and part of the oil giant TotalFinaElf, exploded. It killed 29 and severely injured 34. In all, 2,400 people were injured.
"Initial fears of a terrorist attack were dismissed. Rather, the suspicion is that TotalFinaElf made safety cutbacks to increase their profits, threatening the lives of the workers and the local population.
"We quickly reacted, producing an extra issue of the paper. We sold more than 250 copies. In one university hall of residence we sold 16 copies of the paper with the supplement."
WE WERE one of the organisers of an anti-war demo in Athens on 27 September.
Comrade Andros comments on the mood: "We were surprised by the extent of the anti-American feelings of the mass of the population. They are sorry about the innocent dead but the Americans 'needed a lesson'; 'for once they should feel the same way billions feel around the planet as a result of American policies'.
"The plans to attack Afghanistan or Iraq or whoever, find a huge majority opposed. Only 29% say Greece should take part if NATO and the US decide to use military means. 60% say Greece should keep out of it even if NATO attacks. [Greece is a member of NATO]
"The Greek government is in for trouble because it is certain that their line will be one of full support to whatever the US together with the EU decide."
Pakistan (United Socialist Party)
Comrades report that so far it is mainly members of the pro-Taliban religious right who are taking part in anti-US demos in Pakistan. The broad masses are not directly involved. However the majority feeling is in favour of defending Afghanistan from any US attack.
India (Dudiyora Horaata)
"THERE IS a simmering anti-Muslim mood but as yet no attacks on Muslims", comrades in Bangalore report.
"People in the streets are blaming Pakistan and saying that if the American action is to stop bin Laden then that is good.
"A Muslim cleric has come out against India supporting the US and Hindu fundamentalists have said he should be arrested.
"Colin Powell is reported in the press as saying: 'We do see militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir and will flush them out!'
"When war develops there will be serious negative effects. The rest of the 'Left' is not saying anything apart from the Indian government should not agree to give the US an airbase."
Nigeria (Democratic Socialist Movement)
"THE ISSUE of the terrorist attacks on the WTC has dominated public discussion in Nigeria", says Segun. "It even overshadowed the ethnic clashes which ravaged the town of Jos in central Nigeria the same week and in which over 200 lives were lost.
"The attitude of different layers of the working people tends to vary. For instance, there are press reports that in Kano, in the predominantly Muslim northern part of the country, posters of Osama bin Laden are selling like hot cakes.
"In Zamfara State, the first state in the same region to introduce Islamic Sharia laws, there are reports of jubilation on the streets. But in the relatively industrially more developed south-west and Lagos (with a greater tradition of mass struggles), the majority of people do not welcome the attacks.
"There is a substantial layer which correctly feels that, as horrendous and condemnable the attacks were, it is a product of the policies of the US. Particularly among the sections of the masses of the Yoruba ethnic group, they recall what they call the US's treacherous role during the struggle against military rule in Nigeria.
"On the other hand, there is a small layer, Christians in most cases, that support US military action. Their position is prompted not just by the horror of the attacks in the US but also the numerous ethnic and religious clashes in Nigeria in the past two and a half years, which they believe were caused by the activities of Islamic groups. They wrongly imagine that a US war would deal a deadly blow at 'Islamic fundamentalism' and terrorism.
"With the ethnic and religious tensions in many parts of the country, it is not at all ruled out that a military attack by the US on Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan, Iraq and similar targets could provoke further religious/ethnic clashes, especially in northern areas.
"A day after the attacks, a leading comrade was on a live TV programme in Lagos, which he used to explain our balanced, working-class and socialist position on the issue.
"The organisation has also produced a two-page special edition of our paper which has generally been well received."
The Socialist will report on the anti-war campaigns from other CWI sections next week.
A full round up is in a CWI bulletin available to Socialist Party members. For copies, Tel: 020 8988 8789 or email [email protected]
In The Socialist 5 October 2001: