Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From Hibernia to Aotearoa- thoughts on the Maori and Irish struggles


Commentary- Joe Carolan, Socialist Aotearoa

I first came to Aotearoa a few days before the Battle of Seattle in November 1999- I came here in love, following a green eyed Pakeha to the Waikato. Less than three months later, we were occupying the University Registry on Campus, where I had the first of many korero with Maori comrades about the similarities of the Irish and Maori struggles for freedom and liberation. Now, with the formation of the Mana Party, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with others in the movement.

The Irish, like the Maori people, love ceol, craic and Clan. That’s folksongs, fun and whanau to you. Before the invasion of our land, we were a tribal people, and although we had chieftains and “kings” of our local provinces and counties, were highly collective and egalitarian- and the Clan was the Celtic equivalent of the Maori Iwi. Not to romanticize the "Celtic Communism" of pre-invasion days too much though- we had slavery and inter Clan wars, but these paled into insignificance with the rigid Feudal structure the Norman invaders brought with them in 1169.

“If you’re not strong…”
The resistance against conquest continued unbroken for over 800 years. The North of Ireland today is still occupied by British troops. There were uprisings and revolutions- the United Irishmen of 1798, Wofle Tone and 1801, the Young Irelanders uprising in 1848, and the Easter Rising of 1916, leading to the War of Independence in the early 1920s. Ken Loach’s film The Wind that Shakes the Barley is a good guide to the conflict that shaped the early years of my grandmothers life, as a risen people took on the greatest Empire in the world at the time and drove their forces out, only to suffer a terrible civil war, that left our land divided to this day.

So when I hear Pakeha racist commentators complain about the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, or the Land Wars and confiscations that happened in the Waikato and Tuhoe lands in the 1860s, I regard those events as having happened yesterday. The Irish were the first nation to suffer British Imperialism, and the Maori were the last. For a people who have fought since 1169, the crimes that happened in the Waikato or the Ureweras are raw and fresh. No treaty settlement timetable can rob Tangata Whenua of their land.

“Mar nach bhfuil tu laidir, is ann tu bheith glic”- if you’re not strong, you had better be clever. And up against a technologically superior invader, Maori resistance and bravery was outstanding- from Te Kooti’s mobile guerrilla warfare to the pioneering trench warfare at the Battle of Gate Pa- Tom Barry’s Flying Columns and the brave urban stand of the Citizen Army and IRA rebels of Dublin 1916 being their Irish equivalents. We fought hard for our land and our people, against crushing odds and forces.

Tino and the Republic
And we developed our own political ideologies too. Here, in Aotearoa, there was a declaration of Independence by the Northern Tribes in 1835. Five years later, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed with the British, which allowed settlers to come here and make laws, provided they respected the Tino Rangatiratanga- the sovereignty, the independence, the voice of the chiefs of the people. The concept of “Honouring the Treaty” means respecting that Aotearoa / New Zealand is a land whose establishing document was founded on partnership between the British Crown and the Tangata Whenua, the people of the Land.

Now my Granny Mamie always warned me that the ink wouldn’t have dried on a treaty signed with the bloodthirsty Saxon, before they’d be out breaking it again. And the thieving bastards of British Imperialism did precisely that- in Canada when the hung the rebel Meti leader Louis Riel, in Ireland with their barbaric executions of Robert Emmett, Wolfe Tone and James Connolly, and in Aotearoa with the Taranaki Wars, the Land Wars of the Waikato, the Confiscation of Tuhoe and the sacking of the peace commune of Parihaka.

So I can understand when people say the Treaty is a fraud. Any Treaty made with a militarily superior occupying force is not a Treaty made amongst equals, especially if one of those partners has subsequently murdered the people and stolen the land. Which is why the concept of the Irish Republic became our ideological version of Tino Rangatiratanga- the belief, in the words of our finest revolutionary James Connolly- “that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland”

So the struggles for both Tino and the Republic have some similarities and some differences. The idea of the Republic is an outright rejection of the Crown, influenced by the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity of the French Revolution. The Crown for us can never be a neutral force for arbitration between settlers and natives- it is at the core of British Imperialism.

A Gentry of Our Own?
In 1922, the IRA fought the Brits and their Black and Tans to a standstill, and a Treaty was signed that gave limited independence to an Irish Free State within the confines of a British Commonwealth. After our War of Independence, a bloodier Civil War was waged, brother against brother, comrade against comrade. The Kupapa sell outs in Ireland became the new masters, the new ruling class. And although we had our own tricolour flag flying off our own parliament, the Dail- our children still starved, our workers still scraped by on poverty wages, and millions more emigrated to Australia, Britain and America to find a better life- sound familiar?

There’s a story Mamie told me about the Blacksmith and the Priest. The Blacksmith is a fearless republican, a proud IRA supporter and a member of Sinn Fein. The priest asks him why he’s looking so sad. “Well, Father, it’s like this. The way the war’s going, it looks like the Brits will be out of here by the end of the year”. The priest replies- “Sure isn’t that what you’ve been fighting for all these years, Jemmy?” Picking up his hammer, the blacksmith says “I know, Father, but I rely on the Gentry to buy horseshoes from me. With them gone, I’ll be out of work and my family will starve. What will I do when they’re gone.” The priest smiles, takes Jemmy by the hand, and says, “Don’t worry, my son. Soon we’ll have a Gentry of Our Own..”, and the blacksmith brings the hammer down hard through the priest’s skull.


A Gentry of our Own is the problem every struggle for National Liberation runs up against in the end. For those of us who supported the PLO- look at the rotten collaborationist state of the Palestinian Authority, asking Israel how high. For those of us who supported the ANC’s struggle against Apartheid- look at the slums and poverty of Soweto 20 years on, as a new Black Bourgeoisie lords it over them. And for those of us who supported the IRA, we see Sinn Fein in a coalition government with the arch bigots of Ian Paisley's DUP, where sectarianism has been institutionalized rather than abolished in the North of Ireland, and the poor people of the Short Strand and other enclaves are besieged by racist Orange hordes come Marching Season.*

A Hammer in our hand
Here in Aotearoa, the role of the Maori Party in propping up John Key’s National Party and its relentless attacks on workers, unions and the poor, led to the brave and principled decision by Hone Harawira to resign and form the new left wing Mana Party, in opposition to the sellouts of a New Gentry. The blacksmith has a hammer in his hand, and it is that incorruptible force that Wolfe Tone talked about, the “People with no Property”, that Mana draws its strength from.
The struggle for National Liberation should not result in a new ruling class, like the pigs in Animal Farm, exploiting our own and aping, then becoming our capitalist masters. That is why the leader of the Irish Revolution, James Connolly warned-

“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the Green Flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the socialist republic, your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule through her capitalists, her landlords, financiers, and through the whole array of commercial and industrial institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”

The Maori working class is suffering hard at the hands of capitalists, landlords and financiers like John Key. If we hoist the Tino flag over a privatized Serco Prison, no one will be any more liberated than they are now. Real liberation means an end to unemployment and poverty, decent jobs and living wages for all, community and workers control over our land, resources and work. That means kicking the Browntable out of Sealord, and ending the practice of third world slave labour to maximize profits for the Iwi Leaders Group. That means building fighting unions and campaigns against multinational corporations and ruthless local bosses alike, where Maori, Pakeha and migrant workers find common cause fighting exploitation, low pay, underemployment and insecure hours.

It means building a society that puts the Clan, the Whanau at its heart- the needs of the Collective coming before the greed of the individual. Irish and Maori have long histories of resistance to draw from, and that is why I am proud to be a member of Mana- a party of struggle, a party of the working class, a party that fights for true Tino rangatiratanga- self government and independence for us all.



* Marching season- the equivalent being Pakeha marching with loud drums on local Marae, with banners boasting the date of the defeat of the local Iwi, before getting liquored up and throwing stones at local Maori…

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Mana Revolution has begun



Hone’s victory in the Te Tai Tokerau election means that the Mana Party is now the newest Party with parliamentary representation in Aotearoa. This achievement is impressive, given the range of forces ranged against us- the Maori Party, the Labour party machine, supported by the National Party, and most of the mainstream media and political commentators.

Knocking on the doors out in Waitakere, the best reception I got from people was to our upfront class politics. The Maori Party had abandoned the Maori working class and poor just like the centrist Labour Party had abandoned the whole of the working class- the huge poverty and deprivation we came in contact with on the doorsteps had not just fallen from the sky a day after John Key’s electoral victory in 2008.

When we argued for fighting unions, for living benefits and a living wage, for the abolition of unjust taxes like GST in favour of taxing the rich and their banks, you could see peoples eyes light up. When we talked about a planned, social economy- where the crime of unemployment would no longer be tolerated, and everybody would have socially useful work on a living wage, you saw hope rise up. And several times, when people said a plague on all politicians and all their parties, and we agreed that yes, what was needed was something more fundamental, like a revolution, you saw people smile and laugh. This was not a run of the mill centrist electoral campaign. This was a Hikoi to the Ballot box.

The potential of the Mana movement is immense. New Zealand is built on theft- theft of the land from our Tangata Whenua, and theft of our sweat and labour from a greedy, corporate boss class. Those of us workers who own nothing in the cities have nothing to lose by Maori land being restored to its original owners. If Tuhoe want their own state- fine with us. Indeed, the working class in New Zealand will never be free unless we have liberation and justice for Maori people.

But it’s the theft of our sweat in the towns and the cities that makes Mana a movement for all of us- Maori, Pasifika, Pakeha and other migrants to Aotearoa. There are nearly half a million workers trying to survive on less than $15 an hour, and many of those workers have insecure hours from week to week- even the concept of a 40 hour week is now a radical proposition in the KFCs and McDonalds stores of our land.

There are also nearly half a million people either unemployed or in receipt of poverty level benefits, and it is them and their dependants that suffer the crime of child poverty in a land of Plenty. Raising the next generation of workers is real work- and a decent society would pay those who take care of children at home a full wage. But beneficiaries and the unemployed have suffered falling incomes, under both Labour and National Governments.

This is our wider Mana tribe. The half a million workers on less than $15 an hour. The half a million people on benefits, raising up their children as best they can in crippling poverty. This tribe should not be polite or silent any longer. Its time for this tribe to awake from its slumber and use its anger to organise, one million strong.

The Mana movement must begin to organise against the poverty we suffer, the exploitation and bullying we fight in the warehouses and stores. The victories we win in the electoral field must build a movement that spreads into our communities and workplaces. Its for this reason that activists organised in Socialist Aotearoa congratulate Hone on his historic victory in te tai Tokerau, and promise to help spread the Mana Revolution from its Northern homeland into the working class areas of Auckland and beyond.

-Joe Carolan, www.socialistaotearoa.org


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How we beat Youth Rates Before

How we Beat Youth Rates Before

by Jennifer Josling, Socialist Aotearoa

Youth Rates are discrimination rates. At 16 you are free to leave high school, to work full time or to get into uni to study. At 16 Many youth need to work to survive. With the current proposition of youth wages of $8 to $10 for people ages 16 to 24, living in the current climate will be next to impossible.

The government say that this will bring more jobs for youth also lower the unemployment rates of youth. That they will have more opportunities. I see this going a few different ways.

Firstly, that youth get jobs but have to work many hours to survive, meaning whatever else they may need to do such as study becomes impaired, meaning that they miss out on other important life experiences and time with family and socialising..

Secondly, There will be no work for older people. A business will do what they want to maximise profits and if this means hiring low wage workers, then they will hire them over adult wage workers. Therefore, youth un empoyment might go down, but Adult unemployment will go up..

We can fight youth rates, we have done it before, we can do it again. Such as below in the Supersize My Pay and the $12 per hour Campaigns.

In 2006 I was involved in negotiations with restaurant brands tying to get better wages for the workers. Being a worker at starbucks I could influence negotiations from the inside, taking my workmates on strike etc. I closed my store down 3 times. One of the things we were fighting for was the end of youth rates. Youth rates didnt effect Starbucks workers, but it was a problem in KFC and Pizza hut.

Having taken my own store on strike several times I then organised KFC's in west Auckland to join the union and eventually took them out on strike. The most awesome one was the rolling strike at westgate shopping centre where there were all 3 brands. First I closed down KFC, we jumped into our cars, some marched, and we went down to Starbucks where we had a picket and took out some of their staff. Then onto Burger king where they also joined in, and then pizza hut. Although a number of them went back to work afterwards some stayed on to going to Burger king Lincoln rd (BK was in negotiations then too). We had many strikes and pickets in other parts of Auckland with memorable strikes such as KFC in Balmoral and the end youth rates/ supersize march up queen street, culminating in the big Pay out in meyers park.

Getting an agreement with Restaurant brands took a while, but in the end we won. They agreed that youth rates is discriminatory and that they would, over the next couple of years, bring all youth rates up to par with adult rates and raised some rates by 60%!!

All of this started a movement in which many sectors ended youth rates in their work places and eventually raised the minimum wage to $12 per hour for all work places. This is proof that together we can fight discrimination and win. And we can do It again and win.

Now for the "women should earn less because they bleed" thing.. well, we will see whats going to happen with this, and if anything becomes of it, we will fight this too. Whats next? Maoris should earn less because they are brown? Or People with mental illness should earn less? Or maybe women shouldnt vote...

What ever happens,,, The workers United, Will never be defeated!


Furter Reading- Beat the Brands, the story of NZ's Fastfood Rebellion


Equal Pay for ALL- March on the Millionaires



EQUAL PAY FOR YOUTH AND WOMEN-
MARCH ON THE MILLIONAIRES!

11.30am This Saturday June 25th
Assemble Holy Trinty Cathedral, 446 Parnell Road Parnell
Then march on John Key’s Mansion and the
Employer and Manufacturers Assocation HQ, Khyber Pass

The March on the Millionaires- Equaly Pay for All- will now go from the Holy Trinity Cathedral to John Keys mansion to the headquarters of the EMA in Khyber Pass, following todays huge insult to women workers too- bring a tampon to throw at Alasdair Thompson. First youth, then women- what next, Maori rates?

The Employers Association boss has defended his claim women get paid less than men because they have monthly "sick problems", have babies and need to take extra leave as the "facts of life".

National and Act have signalled they want to re introduce youth rates for workers up to the age of 24 as part of their election policy. The Campaign for a Living Wage has called for a nationwide picket of National MPs offices at 12 noon on Saturday 25th June.

The Campaign gathered a quarter of a million signatures in support of an immediate raising of the minimum wage to $15ph, and is leading the opposition on the streets to the reintroduction of youth rates. Campaign spokesperson Joe Carolan said-


"There are pickets being held in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Hamilton at National MPs offices. in Auckland we'll be going to John Keys mansion in Parnell and the EMA Hq in Khyber Pass. We'll be assembling in front of the Holy Trinity Cathedral at the top of Parnell Road, and then marching down St Stephen's Avenue to the Millionaire's Mansion. Bring your top hat, your pitch fork, your school or workplace!"

"Youth rates don't go far enough- $5 an hr minimum wage now", "Maori rates for Maori workers- Vote Don Brash", "Ban Unions. Bring Back Slavery"- some of the placards for the Millionaires March on Saturday. Wear your suit and bring your briefcase. And bring a tampon to throw at the EMA in Khyber Pass.

"We need a Living Wage for all- $15ph now and then pegged to two thirds the average industrial wage within 3 years, before the whole country moves to Australia. INstead of attacks on workers like youth rates and the 90 Day Fire at Will Bill, the time has come for full employment for all New Zealanders, funded by taxing the millionaires and their mansions. " said Joe.

MORE INFO-
http://www.unite.org.nz/youthrates_unemployment

JOIN THE EVENT HERE ON FACEBOOK-
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=220283764673131

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A guide to John Key's war on working people

Since being elected in 2008 John Key and the National Party have waged a savage war on working people. Instead of deliviring a “brighter future” of high wages and low crime, John Key’s Government has gone about enriching the super-rich elite and big business at the expense of working people.

Asset sales

National’s plan is to sell off 50% of the state-owned electricity companies and Air New Zealand if they win this year’s election. Selling the electricity companies will inevitably lead to higher electricity prices, less revenue to pay for public services and corporate control of the energy market. Electricity is a public resource and as socialists we don’t think anyone should make a private profit everytime we turn on a light or boil a kettle. No wonder 2/3rds of us oppose asset sales.

Health privatisation
In Queenstown the National Government are planning on selling off the public hospital and health facilities and replacing them with corporate healthcare on contract to the Government.

Privatisation of healthcare will put patients lives at risk as corporations managing hospitals attempt to cut costs by overworking staff. Yet privatisation will also cost more as the American model of corporate healthcare shows. When services are privatised not only will we still pay for the costs of healthcare but we’ll also be paying extra so a corporate healthcare company can make a juicy profit.

Privatising Queenstown’s hospital is just one part of the National Government’s plan to radically reduce the accesibility of health services to ordinary New Zealanders. The parts of this plan so far include; privatising ACC provision, paying private hospitals to carry out public health system operations and negotiating away the Government’s right to subsidise medicines in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Growing unemployment
There are now nearly a quarter of a million New Zealanders officially jobless and each week sees more job losses either as a result of the 2008 economic crisis, the Christchurch quake, or offshoring of jobs, Continually unemployment is described by politicians and the market as something that can be solved through the market and business growth. Yet as corporate profits rise, workers real wages fall, then consumption falls and companies cut more jobs.

The only way to solve create new jobs in a time of capitalist crisis is for the state or the community to begin to intervene in the economy through state created industry or new public works spending. The cost of providing jobs to the unemployed is comparatively small. The difference between the $180 per week the state provides in unemployment assistance to a single 20-24 youth and the $600 per week it could pay in return for community service, construction or any other form of employing an unemployed worker is just $21,840 per year.

To put that in perspective the $1.7 billion taxpayer bailout for South Canterbury Finance could pay the wages of 77,838 unemployed workers. Look at it another way and instead of providing tax cuts to the rich that will cost the Government $4 billion in 2011 could have created full employment.


Education cuts

Not only has National cut funding for night classes and tertiary education. They have also slashed $400million in funding for trained teachers in early childhood centres. According to the NZEI, “The cuts will affect 93,000 children enrolled in 2000 early childhood services”. Early childcare centres will be forced to either raise fees or cut the number of trained teachers. These attacks will hurt the children of the working poor the most. In NZn early 1 in 4 children growing up under the poverty line.

Secret free trade deals
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a free trade agreement being negotiated between New Zealand, the US and seven other ountries. As TPP Watch say, “Trade is only a minor part of the agreement. That’s just a clever branding exercise. A TPPA would be an agreement that guarantees special rights to foreign investors. If these negotiations succeed they will create a mega-treaty across 9 countries that will put a straight jacket around what policies and laws our governments can adopt for the next century – think GM labelling, foreign investment laws, price of medicines, regulating dodgy finance firms, NZ content on TV …”

Tax cuts for the super rich
In 2010 John Key brought in his long awaited tax cuts. Yet of the $14 billion of tax cuts that Key announced for the next four years the richest 10 per cent of people got 42 per cent of the tax cuts and the bottom 20 per cent got just 2 per cent. To top it off John Key also raised GST to 15% which affects the working poor more because the lower your income is the greater proportion you end up spending on essentials like food, petrol and rent. Key also made sure to lower the corporate tax rate, give massive tax breaks and cash grants to big corporates like the weapons company Rakon or the union-busting film empire Warner Brothers.

Basically Key’s tax cuts were just another way to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Removing workers’ rights
Even though 80% of New Zealanders don’t support the new employment law changes that allow businesses to unfairly dismiss staff from April 1 it will be allowed. The new employment laws are designed to give workers less rights and corporations more power and more money. The main changes to the employment laws are:

* All workers starting a new job can be required to agree to a 90-day fire-at-will period.
* All workers will have fewer grounds to appeal when they are dismissed unfairly.
* If you are unfairly dismissed you do not have a right to expect to be reinstated to your old job.
* The union organiser will require the employers’ permission to come on to the job.
* You can be required to produce a sick note – without any reason, after just one day
* Employers can now “buy” back you fourth week’s annual leave.
* Employers can now tell you when you should have an alternate day’s holiday when you work on a public holiday.

Corporate welfare

The Government is giving billions in corproate welfare to huge corporates and wealthy shareholders at the same time as working people face growing unemployment, new work laws, GST rising and cuts to health and education. There are a number of examples such as the bailout of South Canterbury Finance to the tune of $1.7billion or the wage subsidy paid to McDonald’s for giving unemployed people jobs, or the massive subsidies to polluting corporations under the ETS.

-Socialist Aotearoa

United against the millionaires- no return to the 1990s

John Key's National Government is sticking the boot in. Real wages drop. Unemployment rises. Health and education standards drop. There is money for tax cuts for the rich, for holiday highways, for party central (WTF?), for SAS murderers in Afghanistan but no money for Auckland's rail, for RadioNZ, for solo-mums bringing up kids, for public sector workers to get wage rises.

The biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. Banks collapse and they get bailed out. Companies ship factories to third world countries, skilled workers leave for Oz, farms get bought up by rich corporations here and abroad, slave labour conditions for workers on our vineyards and on fishing vessels, the prisons fill day by day with angry youth.



Meanwhile as Christchurch tries to recover the government lets a natural catastrophe become a social disaster. We put GST up by 2.5% but where's the money for jobs, for warm homes, for safe infrastructure?

The environment is hurting. Our rivers are toxic, our soil poisoned, the climate's changing rapidly and the mining and petroleum corporations circle like vultures over our Tangaroa and Papatuanuku.

Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand. Sometimes you have to say no more. No more attacks on unions and workers rights. No more beneficiary bashing.

Not in our country should another child go hungry. Wages cannot be allowed to drop. Our electricity companies are not for sale. No more troops for wars of empire and torture. Bring the troops home to rebuild Christchurch. No more confiscation of Maori land. No more bailouts of finance companies. No more tax cuts for the rich. No more letting Fonterra pollute our rivers.

Youth rates is the thin end of the wedge. Key might back down on this or that but the game is up. We have to bring down this Government before it gets worse. We need a Greece style uprising.

What Parliament does, the streets can undo. We need to turn the meek opposition to Key and his cronies into full blown resistance in the streets. In the early 1990s every day saw new fightbacks against the neo-liberal assault and the new right. Student occupations, hospital strikes, rent boycotts, community campaigns. For nine long years hundreds, thousands of people raged against the National Party and their neo-liberal policies. Eventually they brought down the Government.

The situation today is more dire than the 1990s. Aotearoa is at a crossroads. Either we allow the rich and the greedy to continue their failed policies or we take the power back.

Ka whawhai tonu matou! Ake! Ake! Ake!

On Saturday join the fightback to the National-Act Government.

March on the Millionaire's Mansion! Saturday 25 June http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=220283764673131

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The unstoppable force of People Power- Victory march of the Yemeni Revolution



Huge crowds celebrated on the streets of Yemen on Sunday after president Ali Abdullah Saleh fled to Saudi Arabia—saying he needed medical treatment.

“The people have brought down the regime,” chanted the crowds in University Square at the heart of the capital, Sana’a. Protesters have renamed it Change Square and camped there since February.

Saleh, who has held power in the country for 33 years, was injured in an attack on the presidential compound on Friday of last week. Other leading members of his regime were also hurt.

Throughout Friday and Saturday, members of Saleh’s regime insisted that the injuries were minor.

However on Sunday morning it was announced that Saleh had left to have surgery.

Although Saleh’s supporters still say he will come back “in a few days”, that was looking increasingly unlikely.

“The squares have been filling up with people celebrating, and that in itself makes it harder for the dictator to return,” Abubakr Al-Shamahi, a Yemeni activist based in Britain, told the British Socialist Worker newspaper.

“My cousins celebrated right through Saturday night in Change Square. It was such a relief that the crackle of gunfire was replaced by the sound of fireworks.”

But he is nervous that while a lot of Saleh’s family have fled, some have stayed. The Central Security Forces are still under the command of Saleh’s eldest nephew, Yahya, for example.

“I want some sort of official statement that Saleh has gone for good before I’m happy to celebrate,” he added.

This sort of uncertainty about the situation is common.

The revolt has seen mass demonstrations across the country, and the establishment of Change Square camp.

Inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the movement has been gaining strength. It has rocked the rulers of what is one of the poorest counties in the world, with an unemployment rate of 35 percent.

Revolution

Strikes in the south of the country had begun to spread to the north, with airline workers in Sana’a walking out on Saturday. These mass strikes have been key to the revolt.

The movement had also gained support from key tribal leaders in northern Yemen, who had previously supported Saleh.

On 22 May, 10,000 heavily armed members of the Hashid tribal federation entered Sana’a, and street fighting between them and forces loyal to Saleh began.

They seized a number of key government buildings, and members of Saleh’s army, including a brigade of the elite Republican Guard, defected.

The Western media and governments are now arguing that there is a “power vacuum” in Yemen, or that it is a “failed state”.

This should come as no surprise. Saleh’s regime has been supported by Western governments for decades. They have handed him money, weapons, and military training.

Many in the West also claim that, with Saleh gone, Al Qaida will increase its influence. The Sun newspaper this week went as far as calling Yemen “the new republic of Al Qaida”.

But the fact is that the movement in Yemen is a mass revolt from below—like the others across the Middle East and North Africa.

The real risk is that the Yemeni protest movement does not continue after Saleh resigns.

But Abubakr Al-Shamahi thinks it will.

“Yemenis are very stubborn people,” he said. “They’ve suffered 800 dead. People won’t let things go back to ‘normal’. People want change.”

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Annette Sykes speaks on Mana, Tino and the Working Class















Annette Sykes, one of the leaders of the Mana Movement, discusses the relationship between Maori, Tino rangatiratanga and the working class, at the Workers Party conference in Hamilton.