Protests in Thailand continue to grow as the Thai state's reaction has became increasingly heavy handed; using violence, murder and intimidation as a tactic in an attempt to push the opposition movement off the streets. The protests are the result of working class opposition to the military coup which ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and put Abhisit Vejjajiva in his place in 2006. However, we can't look at the troubles from merely a political basis, as it has social and economic causes too; the 'yellow shirt' supporters, in other words, pro-monarchy and largely middle class supporters of the 2006 coup, oppose what they see as an anti-monarchical and working class movement, the 'red shirts', many of whom are supporters of Thaksin, benefited from the introduction of universal healthcare under Thaksin, increasing access to healthcare from 76% to 96%, the subsidising of medication used by HIV patients bringing them to a lower and more affordable price, as well as improved access to university education for people from lower income backgrounds.
Barricades have been set up in Bangkok guarding the 'red shirt' encampment, weapons have been seized from the police and army and even tanks and military vehicles have been captured. In Khon Kaen, northeast Thailand, efforts were made to stop troop trains travelling to Bangkok as well as 'red shirts' managing to convince soldiers to withdraw from the frontlines. This is a result of the Abhisit government's increasing heavy handed approach to the opposition movement; the army and police have opened fire on protesters, recently it was reported that over 50 people had been killed and hundreds injured in May, although the Thai and Western media make out the numbers are lower, snipers are also being used to pick out individual targets within the 'red shirt' encampment, the government claiming that they are only opening fire on 'rioters', apparently amongst the ranks of the 'rioters' included a paramedic called out to treat wounded protesters, foreign journalists and a 10 year old child. In response, 'human rights' groups have called for both sides to stop the violence, spreading the myth that the violence is being equally perpetuated by both sides when in fact, the 'red shirt' protesters have used minimal violence, usually only in defence, although this is no surprise as groups like Amnesty International had already long come out in support of the coup and monarchy. The Abhisit government refuses to negotiate with the opposition movement.
Polls show strong public opposition to immigration, a trend that has coincided with a rise in support for the far-right, in Britain and across Europe. What responsibility do the mainstream parties bear for these developments, what role is immigration playing in the current election, and how should the left address the issue?
These two articles were orignally published by the Scottish Sunday Herald as part of their Argument of the week feature, the first, arguing against Parliamentary politics, was written by a member of Edinburgh Anarchist Federation.
YES: Terri Marquez
Let’s make two things clear. Refusal to vote is not equivalent to political apathy, and the same goes for parliamentary elections and democratic participation. Earlier this week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies reported that all three main parties are intending massive public spending cuts and all three are refusing to say where the axe will fall. If we aren’t told what we’re voting for, then our choice is less informed than that between Pepsi or Coca-Cola.
The Russian group Autonomous Action (AD) is one of the biggest libertarian groups active today. This is in the face of serious bother from the state, neo-nazis and other pondlife. A couple of weeks ago we received this alert from our friends there.
In evening of 14th of April officers of Center of Counteraction Against Extremism (“Center E”) in Tyumen region searched house and arrested for 48 hours local anarchist and member of Autonomous Action Andrey K. According to friends of Andrey, pretext of the arrest was a leaflet, which Center E officers considered “extremist”. Friends of Andrey say that leaflet was planted during the search. Andrey K and Rustam F were arrested in January of 2009 for “political vandalism”, eventually criminal case against them was closed due to “lack of proof”. This history resulted a criminal case against officers of “Center E”, who back then beat up one of the arrested.
Last year, three houses were searched and pretext of the repressions was an anti-militarist leaflet and graffiti against a local military call-up center, wheatpasting against police brutality in spring of 2008 and memorial action of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova 21st of January 2009, where besides flowers also a leaflet was wheatpasted to memorial statue of revolutionaries in the city. Back then, “Center E” officers were searching homes together with SOBR commandos, computers, samizdat(selfprint) press and leaflets against police brutality were confiscated.
Last year, for many hours “Center E” denied the arrest, disinforming friends and family of the arrested. Eventually criminal case against Andrey K and Rustam F was closed only in August of 2009.
And now Andrey is again targeted by “Center E”, which is going maverick. Andrey is a linguist, working in philological faculty of the Tyumen state university.
Andrey was released after a few days but may face some kind of criminal charges and has been ordered not to leave the country.
A message received from El Libertario in Venezuela
Recently, on 13th & 14th of March there was in San José de Las Lajas, near Havana in Cuba, the 4th Critical Observatory event organised by the Haydee Santamaría Professorship[?]. There were a good group of attendees from across the island who presented, listened and debated around the libertarian idea and practical self-organization alternatives for today's Cuban society.
Without doubt this is an encouraging sign for those who have hoped for a long time to see a strong remergence of the path laid by Enrique Roig San Martín, Alfredo López, Enrique Varona, Marcelo Salinas and many other men & women as recollected in Frank Fernández's impressive book "Anarchism in Cuba". So it's necessary that we abroad strongly support this effort at reconstruction that is going ahead in very difficult conditions and in the face of all kinds of obstacles.
For more information, visit the blogs: http://observatorio-critico.blogspot.com and http://elblogdelacatedra.blogspot.com, or search the internet for the terms "Observatorio Crítico" y "Cuba" to find many recent references.
Sent in the name of the Cuban comrades, who have agreed to the distribution of all that this message says.
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