Africa

Ethiopia, democracy and minority rights

Tigrayan forces retook Mekelle, the region’s capital, on 28 June, seven months after Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, occupied the city with federal troops. Initially, the government claimed it had complete control over Tigray province, and that it was just mopping up sporadic resistance. Evidently not, but contradictory accounts make it difficult to ascertain what exactly is happening. This reversal of Tigray’s fortunes came after initial losses following a brutal invasion by both Ethiopian federal forces and the Eritrean army. The invaders committed severe and numerous human right...

The G7: resistance in Cornwall

More photos below article My trip to Cornwall to demonstrate around the G7 summit (11-13 June) felt a bit like a set of concentric circles: I was part of and helping to cohere a delegation of Workers’ Liberty supporters and friends; we were seeking to imbue socialist politics, internationalism, and a working-class orientation into the wider anti-G7 movement; and that movement was challenging the G7 and the politics they represent. It was only en route towards the most southwesterly tip of this island, cutting through the darkening fog in a car-share with newly-acquainted comrades — and...

Tories cut 83% from HIV response

The Tories’ plans to cut foreign aid, from £14bn to £10bn a year, include an 83% cut to the UN agency that fights AIDS and HIV. UK funding to UNAIDS will fall from £15m to £2.5m. UNAIDS’s total core budget this year was £132m. UN agencies are generally restrained when they criticise governments, but UNAIDS pointed out: “It affects the provision of live-saving HIV prevention and treatment services around the world. “It affects the empowerment of young women and adolescent girls and their access to sexual and reproductive health and rights across the world, and Africa in particular. It impacts...

Kino Eye: A post-colonial film from Senegal

Ousmane Sembene of Senegal, a former French colony, was one of Africa’s pioneer filmmakers. His 1975 film Xala is set at the time of the colonial power’s withdrawal. The main character, businessman Aboucader Beye (known as “El Hadji”), becomes one of the new elite. He is utterly corrupt and accepts backhanders from French financiers. He already has two wives and marries a third, much younger than himself, a move which angers and upsets the older pair and Rama, his politically active daughter. She is opposed to the corruption of the new bourgeoisie which, of course, includes her father. She...

Massacres in Tigray

Since early November of 2020, Ethiopia’s Tigray region has been ravaged by war between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, and the Tigray’s People’s Liberation Front (TPFL). Numerous eyewitnesses also credibly allege the involvement of the Eritrean Defense Forces, who are backing the Ethiopian federal government. The TPFL was a major force in Ethiopian politics, until they refused to join prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s new Prosperity Party. Abiy rescheduled the general elections set for 29 August, citing the Covid pandemic, but the TPLF held regional elections in Tigray, defying the government...

Virus: indict the Tories!

Of people who test positive for the virus and should self-isolate, only 20% or fewer are doing so fully. That’s an official estimate. No one knows what percentage of people who are identified as contacts of the infected — and may be infectious themselves, without having symptoms — are self-isolating. Most people asked to self-isolate get no or minimal isolation pay, so isolated properly is economically difficult or impossible. Of those who do self-isolate, many can do so only in overcrowded housing. However careful they are, they’re likely to infect others there. In New Zealand, the government...

The labour movement and easing the lockdown

Starting with Austria reopening small shops on 14 April, almost all European countries have now begun easing their pandemic lockdowns, or announced plans to do so (Italy from 4 May, France from 11 May). Iran has reopened the bazaar in Tehran. Schools have restarted in Beijing and Shanghai. The World Health Organisation, however, has declared that “the worst is yet to come”. Its worry is not so much about a second wave in Europe, as first waves elsewhere. Africa so far shows 1,428 deaths, far fewer than Europe or the USA, and concentrated in Algeria and Egypt (over half that total between them)...

UN votes for Chagos return

On 23 May, the United Nations General Assembly voted 116 to 6 for the UK to end its occupation of the Chagos Islands. Three years before ceding independence to Mauritius in 1968, the UK separated off the islands from the rest of Mauritius to keep control of them, deported the entire population, and leased the largest island, Diego Garcia, to the USA for a huge military base. The Chagossians have been fighting ever since then for the right to go back. A major force in that fight has been the Mauritius socialist group Lalit. Lalit comments: “So, the struggle that Lalit has been spearheading for...

A left case for Brexit

The left was right to campaign against leaving the EU in 2016. Based on the tenor of the campaign, it was clear the Leave campaign would embolden the xenophobes and nationalists that exist across the class spectrum in the UK. This prediction was proven chillingly correct with both the spike in hate crime that followed the referendum and the movement that has emerged around Tommy Robinson over the last few weeks. The left should deplore and, if necessary, physically resist such acts of violent racism. But fighting fascism does not mean accepting globalisation. The fact is, working class people...

Samir Amin, 1931-2018

Samir Amin, who died this year at the age of 87, was one of the foremost writers of the “dependency theory” which, in the 1960s and 70s came, many left-wing activists came to think was “the Marxist theory of imperialism”. Many even thought it was “Lenin’s theory”, although the whole structure of the theory was different. Amin, of Egyptian-French background, lived most of his life in France, and was in the French Communist Party then associated with Maoists. The basic idea of “dependency theory” was that ex-colonial countries were underdeveloped because of a drain of surplus to the richer...

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