Joint Statement: International brands must act urgently and cease all production in Myanmar

Received via Global Women’s Strike and English Collective of Prostitutes.

Joint Statement

International brands must act urgently and cease all production in Myanmar to weaken the military dictatorship and force them to step down

On February 1st 2021, the military in Myanmar carried out a coup and arrested the elected government members and seized power as the State Administrative Council (SAC). On February 5th, when a general strike and street protest known as the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) began, women garment workers were on the frontlines. Some 3,000 women workers came by bus from their factories in the industrial zones to join the protests in Yangon.i Garment workers remain central to the CDM. Millions of people have taken to the streets, risking their lives and their livelihoods, to demand an end to dictatorship and in support of democracy for Myanmar.

Thousands of garment workers (90% women) have been on strike for months. The army and police have responded to the peaceful protests with deadly force, including shooting live rounds into the crowds. Over 1300 people have been killed by the military and police in the past ten months, More than 1,750 have been detained, and raped and tortured in other ways while in custody. Women trade union leaders and workers from the garment industry are among those killed and arrested.ii iii In order to repress the workers’ opposition, military personnel have been deployed at factory gates, and martial law has been imposed in the industrial zones so that protesters are judged by a military tribunal under military law, risking years in prison.

Before 2010 many Western brands were unwilling to operate in Myanmar because they didn’t want to be associated with the draconian working conditions and other atrocities taking place under military rule. Along with 19 other brands, H&M, Primark, Tesco and New Look have signed an industry agreementiv – known as Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) – that commits to ensuring the local factories producing their goods uphold workers’ rights to a living wage, collective bargaining, safety and other guidelines for termination and compensation. ACT has ended operations in Myanmar, but many brands that have signed the agreement, like H&M and Lidl, are still sourcing from Myanmar. This is unacceptable. Now that military rule has returned, the same ruthless conditions are recurring and worker’s rights cannot be ensured – why are brands not pulling out?

Reportedly factory owners and employers are taking advantage of the coup to undermine worker’s rights. Many permanent workers have been sacked and replaced with temporary workers on a daily wage. Employers are also known to be working in collaboration with the army to destroy the trade union movement by informing on trade union activists, providing soldiers with names of trade union members they find problematic or who oppose the military coup and having them arrested. Most trade union organizers are now in hiding, yet still active in the movement.

Despite wages for garment workers in Myanmar being among the lowest in the world, multinational corporations are a significant source of income for the military junta. The cut-make-pack (CMP) garment sector exports for the fiscal year 2020/21 were reported to value US$3.24 billion. The garment industry in Myanmar constitutes US$6bn of annual exports (approx. 30% of all exports).vi Many factories sit on land owned by the military with rent from the factories funding them. In addition to exploiting workers to fund the coup, the military is also widely reported to be exploiting natural resources to further finance their crimes. The destruction of people and destruction of the natural resources go hand in hand.

On September 3, 2021, two of the largest trade unions in Myanmar, the All Burma Federation of Trade Unions (ABFTU) and the Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM) put out a joint statement condemning the actions of the employers and calling on Western brands to stop sourcing their products from Myanmar suppliers.vii Garment workers organised in the Industrial Worker’s Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) as part of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar are calling for comprehensive economic sanctions.viii

“Together with the Myanmar Labour Alliance, a coalition of 185 organisations including trade unions and students, teachers, health workers, engineers’ networks, strike committees, and youth, women and LGBT networks are calling for comprehensive economic sanctions to remove the military regime and restore democracy, human rights, and workers’ rights in Myanmar as quickly as possible. The brands and their lobbyists must stop insisting that they can stay in the country under these conditions. By staying in the country, they objectively defend and legitimize a terrorist regime.”

Khaing Zar Aung: President of the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM), an executive committee member of the Confederation of Trade Union Myanmar (CTUM), and a member of the Myanmar Labour Alliance.

Given that over two-thirds of Myanmar’s garment exports are for the UK/EU and US markets,ix we have an opportunity and an obligation to act in solidarity with the garment workers and all those opposing the coup and the military’s crimes in Myanmar.

We, the undersigned, join the trade unions of Myanmar in their call for international brands and retailers to urgently take action:

1.Withdraw from Myanmar to put pressure on the military dictatorship to step down.

2. When withdrawing, consult with Myanmar garment unions for an exit plan to ensure transparency and due compensation to the workers, and contribute humanitarian aid to the workers and people of Myanmar.

3. Publicly join the international condemnation of the military coup in Myanmar and call for democracy to be restored. Actively support the Civil Disobedience Movement, trade unions and the National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (NUG) in their efforts to stop this brutal military dictatorship.

Issued by Global Women’s Strike and No Sweat

Signed by…

Fascism and Antifascism. Part three. Populist fascism: perpetual counter-revolution.

From ‘The Authority of the Boot-maker’ by Mal Content.

“What is this liberal rubbish?
Are you some kind of mug?
Don’t talk to me of ‘free speech’
For murdering fascist thugs

We remember Mosley
And how Cable Street folk fought him
When we see the fash
We let the boots do the talking”

– Oi Polloi

Now I started writing this chapter in 2012, then I paused it to see what would happen, and quite a lot has happened since. Ten years on, Britain has the most explicitly right-wing authoritarian government in its history, suppressing dissent by any means at its disposal. It is supported by computerised surveillance and detection, a police force as brutal, sexist and racist as ever, tamed media and a judiciary who mostly went to the same schools as the executive. The entire island is in counter-insurgency mode.

We’ve seen the rise and fall of the English Defence League and the United Kingdom Independence Party, the election of far-right governments around the world. The United States elected a reactionary-comic television presenter as its 45th President, who clowned around for five years making his office even more of a laughing stock while we wondered if anyone had the sense to disconnect the nuclear button.

In 1945, after six years of war against Nazism, a British labour government permitted the fascists detained under Regulation 18b to resume their activities, and gave them a police escort wherever they went, as unsurprisingly they had no popular constituency whatsoever. They were joined by Axis prisoners of war who were supposedly being rehabilitated. Some of those returned to Germany and maintaining their British contacts, plotted a fourth Reich, under cover of a crank spiritualist group called Ostara. Recently demobbed British Jews reacted with disbelief:

“I had been in the merchant navy, survived two torpedo attacks on the Atlantic convoys, and I came back home to Amhurst Road, Hackney to hugs and kisses. My mother went out to make some tea and my dad said, The bastards are back – Mosley and his Blackshirts

– Morris Beckman, antifascist: to ‘The Guardian’ 2009.

Apart from Spain and Portugal, which retained fascist governments, the only country in Europe where it was legal to glorify Hitler and the holocaust was Britain. Mosley took advantage of this to publish a German-language paper and antisemitic propaganda for distribution by right-wing British service personnel in the occupation zone. After three years of that, Mosley again combined the splinters into the Union Movement, and embarked on an electoral campaign.

“Going from a cinema showing newsreel of piles of Jewish men, women and children being bulldozed into lime pits in the concentration camps, and then passing an outdoor fascist meeting or seeing swastikas whitewashed on the walls of Jewish homes and synagogues affected these ex-servicemen with emotion ranging from choleric anger to a cold hard desire to kill the perpetrators.”

– Morris Beckman: ‘The 43 Group’

The conflict in the British Working Class was inflamed on the one hand, by newsreels of the holocaust, and on the other, by the civil war in Palestine that preceded the establishment of the state of Israel.

“Above all, it was the unfolding extent of the concentration camp horrors that really unhinged us all. It imbued every ex servicemen with a sick sense of shame that no action had ever been taken to try to save the camp inmates. Air crews had no doubt that specialised attacks could have taken out gas chambers, furnaces and SS barracks. Ex-paratroopers and Special Forces veterans argued that drops into and around the camps could have saved many, but nothing was ever attempted, …”

                (ibid.)

You have to keep in mind that Churchill had been an anti-Semite when Hitler was still in short trousers, and so was post-war foreign secretary Ernest Bevin. Bevin was an enthusiast of the ‘Truman Doctrine’ against Soviet influence, so the pre-war squabble between socialist and Communist internationals was still playing into fascist hands. A dedicated imperialist, Bevin opposed Indian independence and set about re-establishing Dutch control in Indonesia, using British, Indian and even Japanese troops to wrest the islands from the indigenous people who had recently liberated them. He was also concerned to limit Jewish emigration to Palestine, declaring to the press on 1st March 1946: “Jews must not try to get to the head of the queue”, sparking riots in Tel Aviv that left six civilians dead, shot by British troops. Some Jewish soldiers refused to clash with their co-religionists and were quietly posted elsewhere.

“Watching the Royal Navy stop Greek and Turkish bucket ships crammed with the sick and broken survivors of the camps and the Pathé Gazette and Movietone films of these same derelicts being incarcerated behind barbed wire in Cyprus, seemed to plumb the very depths of inhumanity.”

(ibid.)

Just as they had been before the war, the fascists were driven off the streets by autonomous direct action. The ‘43 Group’,

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‘Previously Unknown Massacres’: Why Is Israel Allowed to Own Palestinian History?

Toward Freedom

Palestinian refugees in 1948 / credit: hanini.org

Haaretz’s investigative report—‘Classified Docs Reveal Massacres of Palestinians in ’48—and What Israeli Leaders Knew’—is a must-read. It should be particularly read by any person who considers himself a ‘Zionist’ and also by people who, for whatever reason, support Israel, anywhere in the world.

“In the village of Al-Dawayima (…), troops of the 8th Brigade massacred about 100 people,” Haaretz reported, though the number of the Palestinian victims later grew to 120. One of the soldiers who witnessed that horrific event testified before a government committee in November 1948: “There was no battle and no resistance. The first conquerors killed 80 to 100 Arab men, women and children. The children were killed by smashing their skulls with sticks. There wasn’t a house without people killed in it.”

The Haaretz report of nearly 5,000 words was filled with such painful details, stories of Palestinian elders who could not flee the Zionist invasion and ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine (1947-48), who were lined up against various walls and massacred; of an older woman being shot point-blank with four bullets; of other elders who were crammed inside a home and shelled by a tank and hand grenades; of many Palestinian women raped, and other devastating stories.

Quite often, historians refer to the way that Palestine was ethnically cleansed from its native inhabitants by making this typical assertion regarding Palestinian refugees: “… those who fled or were expelled from their homes.” The reference to the word “fled” has been exploited by supporters of Israel, by making the claim that Palestinians left Palestine on their own accord.

It was also Haaretz that, in May 2013, reported on how Israel’s founding father and first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, had fabricated that very history to protect Israel’s image. Document number GL-18/17028, which was found in the Israeli military archive, demonstrated how the story of the fleeing Palestinians—supposedly at the behest of Arab governments—was invented by the Israelis themselves.

Sadly, as Haaretz’s latest revelations prove, Palestinians who chose to stay, due to their disability, age or illness were not spared, and were massacred in the most horrifying way imaginable.

But something else struck me about the report: the constant emphasis by delusional Israeli leaders, then, that those who carried out the numerous grisly murders were but a few and that they hardly represent the conduct of an entire army. Note that the ‘army’ in reference here are Zionist militias, some of whom operated under the title of ‘gang’.

Moreover, much emphasis was attached to the concept of ‘morality’, for example, “Israel’s moral foundations” which, according to those early ‘ethical Zionists’, were jeopardized by the misconduct of a few soldiers.

“In my opinion, all our moral foundations have been undermined and we need to look for ways to curb these instincts,” Haim-Mosh Shapira, then-Minister of Immigration and Health, was reported by Haaretz as saying during a meeting of the government committee.

Shapira, who represented the voice of reason and ethics in Israel at the time, was not contending with Israel’s right to be established on the ruins of colonized—and eventually destroyed —Palestine. He was not questioning the killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians or the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands during the Nakba, either. Instead, he was referencing and protesting the excesses of violence which followed the Nakba, now that the future of Israel and the destruction of Palestine were assured.

This branch of ‘humanistic’ Zionism, that of selective and self-serving morality, continues to exist to this day. As odd as this may seem, the editorial line of Haaretz itself is the perfect manifestation of this supposed Zionist dichotomy.

Needless to say, very few Israelis, if any, have been held accountable for the crimes of the past. 73 years later, Palestinian victims continue to cry out for a justice that continues to be deferred.

One might find this conclusion a bit harsh. Zionist or not, one may protest that, at least, Haaretz has exposed these massacres and the culpability of the Israeli leadership. Such assumptions, however, are highly misleading.

Generation after generation of Palestinians, along with many Palestinian historians—and even some Israelis—have already known of most of these massacres. In its report, for example, Haaretz refers to “previously unknown massacres”, which include Reineh, Meron (Mirun) and Al-Burj. The assumption here is that these massacres were ‘unknown’—read unacknowledged by the Israelis themselves. Since Haaretz’s editorial line is driven by Israel’s own misconstrued historical narrative, the killings and destruction of these villages simply never happened—until an Israeli researcher acknowledged their existence.

Walid Khalidi, one of Palestine’s most authoritative historians, has been aware, along with many others, of these massacres for decades. In his seminal book, ‘All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948’, Khalidi speaks of Al-Burj, of which the only claim to existence is now “one crumbled house (…) on the hilltop.”

In reference to Meron (Mirun), the Palestinian historian  discusses what remains of the village in detail and precision: “While the Arab section of the village was demolished, several rooms and stone walls still stand. One of the walls has a rectangular door-like opening and another has an arched entrance”.

This is not the first time when an Israeli admission of guilt, though always conditional, has been considered the very validation of Palestinian victimization. In other words, every Palestinian claim of Israeli misconduct, though it may be verified or even filmed on camera, remains in question until an Israeli newspaper, politician or historian acknowledges its validity.

Our insistence on the centrality of the Palestinian narrative becomes more urgent than ever, because marginalizing Palestinian history is a form of denial of that history altogether—the denial of the bloody past and the equally violent present. From a Palestinian point of view, the fate of Al-Burj is no different than that of Jenin; Mirun is no different than that of Beit Hanoun and Deir Yassin is no different than that of Rafah—in fact, the whole of Gaza.

Reclaiming history is not an intellectual exercise; it is a necessity, yes, with intellectual and ethical repercussions, but political and legal, as well. Surely, Palestinians do not need to re-write their own history. It is already written. It is time that those who have paid far more attention to the Israeli narrative abandon such illusions and, for once, listen to Palestinian voices, because the truth of the victim is a wholly different story than that of the aggressor.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His forthcoming book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is ramzybaroud.net.

Chile: ‘The risks of multiformity’ – Words of anarchist prisoner Francisco Solar EN/ES

dark nights

The search for freedom implies the attempt to establish and develop practices in that sense. Breaking with imposed directions, dogmas and predetermined schemes is essential in the construction of anti-authoritarian relations and in the strengthening of these.

Multiformity in terms of action (and not only) is circumscribed in this way of understanding and carrying out the struggle. It is an expression of freedom that denies singular rigid behaviors and ways of doing things, as well as encouraging imagination and autonomy.

It is also a rejection of specialization and specialists who, as we have seen, sooner rather than later become leaders who become enlightened vanguards. It was and is recurrent to see how the armed apparatuses that perpetrated significant actions became the leadership of an organization or the part of a movement that arrogated, through the use of arms, its representation, demonstrating a militarism that we are alien and contrary to.

On the other hand,

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As Israel designates Palestinian human rights organisations ‘terrorist’, where is the international community?

gal-dem

Two Palestinian human rights workers speak out against Israel’s branding of their workplace as a “terrorist” organisation.

Img. Khadija Said

In late October, Israel designated six leading Palestinian civil society and human rights organisations as “terrorist” organisations – including our workplace. We are two Palestinian women who work for Addameer, a non-governmental, civil institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons. This latest escalation in Israel’s use of its military and legislative powers to maintain control over Palestinians suppresses any form of dissent and severs our right to self-determination.

Two weeks later, the Israeli military

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COP26: Fossil fuel industry has biggest delegation at climate talks – study

Drill or drop

More than 500 lobbyists from some of the largest oil and gas companies have been given access to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, new analysis has found.

COP26 venue. Photo: DrillOrDrop.

Researchers counted the number of individuals either affiliated with fossil fuel corporations, such as Shell, Gazprom or Exxon, or attending as members of delegations acting for the fossil fuel industry.

The study, by Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory, Glasgow Calls Out Polluters and Global Witness, found

  • If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation at COP26 it would be the largest, with 503 delegates
  • This would be double the size of the UK delegation and more than twenty individuals bigger than Brazil, the largest country delegation
  • More than 100 fossil fuel companies are represented at COP26
  • 30 fossil fuel trade associations and membership organisations are also present
  • Fossil fuel lobbyists are about double the official number from the indigenous constituency at COP26

The researchers also found that the fossil fuel lobby was larger than the combined total of the eight delegations from countries worst affected by climate change in the last two decades: Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Mozambique, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Pakistan.

The analysis also showed that 27 official country delegations, including Canada, Kuwait, Russia and Brazil, registered fossil fuel lobbyists.

Yesterday the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 9UNFCCC), the COP26 organisers was accused of violating its charter because it had “forged an intimate partnership with corporations”.

COP26 has been criticised in the past week as the most excluding of the climate talks. People from countries in the climate front line have complained about lack of access because of issues such as travel restrictions and lack of Covid-19 vaccines.

Murray Worthy, Gas Campaign Leader at Global Witness, said:

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Red and Black Telly roundup.







Prison of Rancagua, Chile: About what happened to the anarchist and subversive prisoners last Thursday

Act for freedom now!

At around noon on Thursday, October 21, there was a violent attack by prison guards – more than 50 – with the aim of tyrannizing the prisoners – less than 20 – who were in the courtyard at the time in section 1 of the maximum security of the Rancagua prison. It is in this context that, along with an equal number of social prisoners, the comrades of the section confronted the cops’ arrogance and stood up to the executioners’ orders, refusing to obey in order to protect their unshakable dignity.

Perhaps we should explain that the usual modus operandi of the prison administration in this prison is to try to bend and break the will of the individual, ordering prisoners to perform degrading acts such as putting their hands behind their backs, standing face to the wall, or doing squats, forms of submission that are constantly refused by the imprisoned anarchist and subversive comrades because they understand well the importance of the right to freedom of expression. There is no textbook that explains this analysis, it is their own conscience and ability to learn from the mistakes of each of our comrades that has led them to choose this path. It is also logical that this kind of response from our comrades leaves the prison guards with a bitter taste in their mouth, which often culminates in violence… This was one of those cases.

After the comrades refused to carry out these acts,

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Source: publicacionrefractario

Italian translation: infernourbano

Translated from Italian by Act for freedom now!

Fossil fuel extraction plans “vastly exceed” safe climate limits – UN

Drill or drop

Fossil fuel production planned by national governments “vastly exceeds” the limit needed to keep global temperatures at safe levels, the United Nations said today.

Egdon Resources’ oil production site at Wressle, North Lincolnshire. Photo: Union Jack Oil

Despite greater climate ambitions and net-zero commitments, oil and gas production is expected to rise sharply and planned cuts to coal extraction are just modest.

A report for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says countries have predicted they will produce more than double the fossil fuels (110%) in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5C.

The 2021 Production Gap Report looks at the discrepancy between governments’ planned production of oil, gas and coal, and the global fossil fuel production levels needed to limit warming to 1.5C and 2C.

Since the first report in 2019, the gap is largely unchanged. Total fossil fuel production is expected to increase to at least 2040, creating an ever-widening production gap, it said.

Today’s report, produced by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), said governments’ production plans and projections would lead to about 240% more coal, 57% more oil, and 71% more gas in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on the report and scientist at SEI, said:

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Rapid cuts to methane leaks at oil and gas sites needed to meet climate targets – IEA.

DRILL OR DROP?

Cutting methane emissions from oil and gas sites is vital to limiting global warming to 1.5C, the International Energy Agency said today.

In its annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA said this measure could close 15% of the gap between what was needed to limit temperature rise and today’s pledges by world governments.

The flagship report – designed as a guidebook for world leaders at next month’s climate talks in Glasgow – said there would need to be cuts in 2030 of almost 90 million tonnes of methane emissions from fossil fuel operations to keep the world on track for net zero by 2050.

“Rapid reductions in methane emissions are a key tool to limit near-term global warming, and the most cost-effective abatement opportunities are in the energy sector, particularly in oil and gas operations.

“Methane abatement is not addressed quickly or effectively enough by simply reducing fossil fuel use; concerted efforts from governments and industry are vital to secure the emissions cuts that close nearly 15% of the gap to the NZE [Net Zero Emissions by 2050 scenario].”

Today’s report also said the use of oil would have to fall sharply to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

For the first time in a World Energy Outlook, the IEA predicted an eventual decline in oil demand. If all today’s announced climate pledges were met, the world would still be consuming 75 million oil barrels per day by 2050 – down from around 100 million today. But to meet net zero emissions by 2050, the use of oil would need to plummet to 25 million.

The IEA said there had been “a large rebound” in oil and coal use in 2021. Largely for this reason, 2021 was also seeing the second-largest annual increase in carbon dioxide emissions in history.

The IEA’s executive director, Fatih Birol, said:

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