DPRK Foreign Policy Promotes Peace

Ri Hyon Do

The Korean Peninsula is the focus of the world’s attention. It is because the Peninsula is fraught with the biggest danger of war. There exists neither a mechanism nor an agreement with binding force to prevent war.

The Korean armistice agreement has already been scrapped.

Since the Peninsula was bisected into the north and south, peace has been maintained there for over half a century. But it was an unstable peace on the eve of nuclear war and in an acute confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S.

It was a fortune that the touch-and-go situation has not been turned to a war as international analysts predicted.

Then what keeps the tense situation from being converted into war?

It is the invariable peace policy of the DPRK.

The DPRK has made sincere efforts to put an end to ceasefire and achieve peace on the Peninsula.

At the Geneva talks held in 1954 for peaceful settlement of the Korean issue the DPRK government advanced a concrete proposal to pull out all foreign forces from the Peninsula in accordance with the armistice agreement and bring about peace and peaceful reunification.

It did its best to reach even a principled agreement to the minimum when the talks faced rupture.
After disrupting the Geneva talks intentionally the U.S. continued to beef up its forces in south Korea, but the DPRK government reduced the troops of the Korean People’s Army by a large margin and took a measure to withdraw the Chinese People’s Volunteers.

The 3rd Session of the 5th Supreme People’s Assembly in March 1974 proposed holding talks between the DPRK and the U.S. to agree non-aggression, stop introducing all kinds of weapons, operation equipment and war materials from the outside of boundary of Korea, withdraw all foreign troops from south Korea and disallow the Korean Peninsula to be used as foreign military base or operation base.

In January 1984 the DPRK government advanced a peace package to hold tripartite talks involving the DPRK, the U.S. and the south Korean authorities for concluding a peace agreement between the DPRK and the U.S. and adopting a declaration of non-aggression between the north and the south of Korea and also set forth disarmament proposals containing detailed measures for peace on the Peninsula.

In April 1994 too, the DPRK government put forward a proposal to set up a new peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula.

It also proposed concluding a tentative agreement between the DPRK and the U.S. replacing the armistice agreement to remove armed conflict and war danger and maintain peace on the Peninsula till a complete peace agreement is concluded.

Thanks to our positive efforts, general-level talks of the DPRK and U.S. military took place at Panmunjom to form a new armistice management organization on the Korean Peninsula.
In the latter half of the 1990s the issue on establishing a lasting peace mechanism on the Peninsula was discussed between the DPRK and the U.S. and at the quadripartite talks between the DPRK, the U.S., China and south Korea.

At the talks the DPRK government, proceeding from its will to achieve actual peace on the Peninsula, consistently proposed an issue on withdrawing the U.S. troops from south Korea and signing a peace agreement between the DPRK and the U.S.

Our fair and aboveboard peace proposals were unanimously supported by the progressives of the world.

The DPRK has made ceaseless efforts for peace in the new century too.

Despite our sincere efforts, however, the Korean Peninsula does not yet witness a lasting peace entirely because of the U.S. dishonest attitude to our proposal.

If the U.S. had accepted any one of our fair proposals, a lasting peace would have settled on the Peninsula.

It is a steadfast stand of the DPRK to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and the rest of the world. In the future the DPRK will maintain a firmer stand to defend stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula and contribute to global peace.

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Bangladesh in Turmoil

Islamist upsurge threatens women, workers and minorities

Workers Hammer

For some months, Bangladesh has been in the throes of a general political crisis, with Islamic fundamentalists staging mass mobilisations against the government. In early May, Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest fundamentalist organisation in the country, mobilised its supporters to converge on the capital in what they called “Siege Dhaka”. Hefazat-e-Islam, an outfit that was born in opposition to a proposal to give women equal rights to inherit, is putting forward a 13-point programme. Among other things it calls for execution as the penalty for “insulting Islam”, a ban on intermingling of men and women and an end to “shameless behaviour and dress”. This reactionary upsurge is an ominous threat to the working class, the oppressed and above all to women.

Jamaat supporters are enraged by the ongoing trials of its leaders, who are accused of atrocities that were committed against the Bangladeshi population at the time of independence from Pakistan in 1971. The revolt of the Bengali-speaking population led by the Awami League met ferocious repression by the Pakistani oppressor. Pakistan’s military laid siege to Bengali areas and carried out a mass slaughter. Estimates of the numbers killed vary widely, but a commonly cited figure in Bangladesh is three million. Some ten million Hindus became refugees, many fleeing to India. The number of women raped by the Pakistani army and paramilitary units is estimated at tens of thousands.

The Pakistani side was supported by Jamaat-e-Islami, which actively opposed independence for Bangladesh. Its cadres participated in paramilitary units such as the Razakars (roughly, “collaborators”) who colluded with the Pakistani troops in carrying out terrible crimes against the Bangladeshi population. Following independence, Jamaat and other organisations who had sided with Pakistan were widely hated in Bangladesh and were banned by the ruling Awami League. In 1973 the government decided to try collaborators for war crimes, but it later backtracked and declared an amnesty, releasing all suspects.

Over time, however, the political bankruptcy of the Awami League paved the way for the forces of political Islam to re-emerge as a force in the country. A key factor was the utter inability of the bourgeois nationalists to free the masses from extreme poverty. This was evident as early as 1974 by which time Bangladesh faced disastrous famine and floods. The venal and corrupt Awami League had lost popular support. It was overthrown in a military coup in 1975 that assassinated its leader, Mujibur Rahman (Mujib), and killed 40 members of his family — all but two daughters, one of whom is Sheikh Hasina, the current party leader and prime minister. The military coup brought General Ziaur Rahman to power, who welcomed Jamaat back to Bangladesh. He also founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The country was run for years by military dictatorship, followed since the 1990s by rotating Awami League- or BNP-led governments.

But since 1971 the perpetrators of atrocities continued to walk free in Bangladesh — and other countries, including Britain, which gave many of them a warm welcome — and the issue festered. To capitalise on popular anger over the issue, in the run-up to the 2008 elections Sheikh Hasina revived the proposal to try those accused of war crimes. This was a cynical manoeuvre by a corruption-ridden party to refurbish its credentials as the party that led the independence struggle. Following a landslide election victory for the Awami League, the long-delayed war crimes proceedings began in 2010. Foremost among those accused are leaders of Jamaat.

Last December, before any verdicts were announced, Jamaat organised a general strike in protest against the trials. On 5 February Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant general secretary of Jamaat, was convicted of complicity in rape and mass murder and sentenced to life in prison. On 28 February, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice president of Jamaat and a former Member of Parliament, was sentenced to death, as was Muhammad Kumaru Zaman on 9 May. With each conviction, the Islamists orchestrated mob rampages against not only the government but also the oppressed Hindus. After Sayedee was sentenced to death, his supporters attacked Hindu villages, damaging more than 50 temples and destroying more than 1500 houses in nearly 20 districts. Hindus were forced to flee with their families and continue to live in fear. Buddhist temples and statues were also damaged, notably near the southern city of Chittagong where the Islamists are strong.

The howling by the fundamentalists for the death penalty for “insulting Islam” is aimed at the pro-secular demonstrations that began on 5 February at Shahbagh, a major intersection in the capital near Dhaka University. Thousands of young people gathered, demanding that the government take tougher action against the fundamentalists. Among the demands raised were a ban on Jamaat, an end to funding of religious schools and hospitals and a boycott of the banks run by Islamic organisations. In defiance of the Islamists, women mingled with men while students, young people and secular writers and artists joined in. The protests grew in size and continued over many days, eventually growing to two hundred thousand, the largest that Bangladesh has seen for decades. The Bangladesh flag was prominent in the protests, showing widespread illusions in “secular” Bangladeshi nationalism as the solution to fundamentalism.

The “atheist bloggers” who were identified with these protests have been targeted for murderous violence by the Islamists: on 14 January, 29-year-old blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who had been hounded by Islamic reactionaries, was stabbed and seriously injured. A month later, the well-known “atheist blogger”, Ahmed Rajib Haider, who had been threatened by pro-Jamaat activists, was found dead with his throat slit. When the tribunal passed down the life sentence for Quader Mollah, the Shahbagh protesters thought it was too lenient and demanded the death penalty. They fear that the people who are being convicted will walk free if the BNP wins the election, which is due within a year. There are also well-founded fears that Hasina could cut a deal with the Islamic fundamentalists, whom she has repeatedly conciliated in the past.

In 2006, Hasina signed an electoral pact with Khelafat Majlish in which she agreed that, if elected with the help of these fundamentalists, the Awami League would enact a blasphemy law and give legal backing to fatwas. The charge of blasphemy has increasingly been used by fundamentalists in Pakistan, and in Egypt when President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was in office, to inflict murderous violence on impoverished Christians of both countries. Even without a blasphemy law, Hasina’s government had no qualms about arresting several bloggers and shutting down web sites for supposedly offending religious sentiment. In April the government announced it would not adopt the anti-blasphemy laws as written. However, in response to their demand for state-sanctioned Sharia law (Islamic religious law), Hasina pledged that: “Our country will be run in keeping with the spirit of the Medina Charter … of our beloved Prophet Mohammad” (The Hindu, 15 April).

Hasina’s grotesque promise to implement a seventh century Islamic charter did nothing to mollify the Islamists. In protest at not getting their full programme adopted, the BNP called for a two-day general strike on 5-6 May. Hefazat and Jamaat supporters unleashed a riot, setting much of Dhaka ablaze. An unknown number were killed in a crackdown before the government regained control. Among those attacked in the rampage by the Islamists was the Communist Party of Bangladesh, whose office was torched. Its members were lucky to escape with their lives.

Women garment workers are key

With the country engulfed in a crisis over the war crimes trials, the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry shocked the country and the world. The Rana Plaza factory building collapse in April annihilated more than 1100 mainly women garment workers. This act of industrial murder showed the real workings of the capitalist market in one of the poorest countries in the world. Some 5000 factories in Bangladesh produce garments for major North American and European brands. The workers toiling in near-slavery in these deathtraps are paid the lowest wages in the world for that industry — as low as $37 (£24) a month, far below subsistence, often working 15-hour shifts.

At the same time, the garment industry is a cornerstone of the country’s economy and the millions of workers in these factories have potential social power. To prevent such power from being unleashed, the local garment bosses, aided by the Awami League government, brutally suppress trade unions, to the point of targeting union activists with murderous violence (see Workers Vanguard no 1023, 3 May). Nevertheless, a number of strikes have swept the industry in recent years. And when news of the Rana Plaza disaster spread, hundreds of thousands of these workers walked out of work and marched on the headquarters of the garment manufacturers’ association demanding “we want execution of the garment factory owners!”

The women who work in these factories are drawn from the villages, where illiteracy rates are high and the influence of religion and anti-woman prejudices are pervasive. For these women, a job in the garment industry opens up the possibility of escaping from the backwardness of village life. The ability of women to find employment in the cities breaks the taboo on mixing with men outside the home and enables women to become financially independent of their families. This fuels a backlash by the Islamists because it undermines the material basis for the traditional village and family hierarchy, within which women are blatantly traded as property. Dowry was prohibited by Bangladeshi law in 1980 but the legislation had little effect and the practice remains widespread. All aspects of personal and family law — regarding marriage, separation and divorce — are religion-based. Muslims are subjected to Islamic law, Christians to laws agreed by Christian churches and Hindus to Hindu codes. Numerous reports have documented an extremely high level of violence against women in Bangladesh. “Sulfuric acid — able to burn through skin, muscle and bone — is thrown on women for various reasons including ‘refusal of marriage offers, rejection of male advances, dowry disputes, domestic fights, property disputes, and even a delayed meal’” (quoted in “Bangladesh: Violence against women”, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 2004). In 2002 the government introduced special laws to stop acid attacks; in 2011 the state restricted the sale of certain kinds of acids in an effort to reduce the number of these gruesome attacks.

Women have most to gain from the overthrow of capitalism in Bangladesh and, as indeed in all of South Asia, they will be a motor force for socialist revolution. The fight for the most basic needs of women — for literacy, education, contraception, an end to forced marriage and a way out of grinding poverty and oppression — requires a struggle to root out the very foundations of capitalist society. In 1994, when Jamaat launched a murderous anti-woman campaign against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, we wrote that “Nasrin’s case raises questions far beyond the important democratic issues of women’s rights, freedom of speech and the separation of religion and the state”, questions “that only a revolutionary socialist program can answer”. Our article emphasised that:

“In the Third World countries burdened by centuries-old ‘customs,’ even basic questions of democratic reform can be explosive, not least because women’s subordination in the family has decreed them as the ‘bearers’ of the traditional culture to the next generation. But to unleash the tremendous revolutionary potential of the fight for women’s emancipation requires the leadership of a genuinely communist workers party, armed with a broad new vision of a social order of equality and freedom. The fight for the basic needs of the vast mass of Bangladeshi women — an end to forced marriage and the seclusion of purdah and the veil; freedom from poverty and legal subjugation; the right to an education and decent health care, including abortion and contraception — is an attack on the foundations of the capitalist social order and poses nothing less than socialist revolution”.

— “Women and the Permanent Revolution in Bangladesh”, Women and Revolution no 44, Winter 1994-Spring 1995

When the imams issued a fatwa (religious edict) against Nasrin and put a price on her head, she was hounded out of Bangladesh in 1994 and has remained in exile, forbidden to return home, not only under the BNP government but also under the Awami League. Nasrin’s case is a litmus test of the “secularism” the Awami League (occasionally) espouses, as well as for the left. At the time, the Bangladeshi Left Democratic Front, a coalition of leftist parties tailing the Awami League, condemned Nasrin for making statements against the Koran. Similarly, under a West Bengal government led at the time by the Stalinists of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), she was forced to flee Kolkota. This was a cowardly capitulation to religious obscurantism and a gross betrayal of women on both sides of the Bengal border.

The CPI (M)’s commitment to upholding capitalist class rule in India was brutally clear in 2007 when its cadres joined police in an assault on peasants who were resisting a forced land expropriation in Nandigram, West Bengal. As our Canadian comrades wrote in an article:

“The Nandigram massacre had a precursor in a 1979 massacre of dalit (so-called ‘untouchable’) Hindu refugees from heavily Muslim Bangladesh. These refugees, some 30,000, had tried to settle on the small island of Marichjhapi in the inhospitable terrain of the Sundarbans, but the CPI(M) leaders declared their settlement ‘unauthorized.’ After a starvation blockade led to as many as 1,000 deaths, forcible removal began and hundreds were simply massacred. Settlers were tear-gassed, their huts razed, their fisheries and wells destroyed. As they were driven out of Marichjhapi, over 4,000 families perished.”

— Spartacist Canada no 171, Winter 2011/2012

As opposed to Stalinists — such as the Communist Party of Bangladesh and its Indian counterparts — we Trotskyists fight for the perspective of permanent revolution: the overthrow of imperialist domination through workers revolution, uniting all of the oppressed, including women as well as the mass of toiling peasants, under the leadership of a Leninist party. Such a party will mobilise the social power of the proletariat in a struggle modelled on that of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia.

Religious reaction — a tool of the imperialists

Particularly in the Indian subcontinent, the struggle for women’s liberation, as well as for working-class unity, means combating communalism. In Bangladesh communalism by Muslim bigots is directed against the oppressed Hindu minority, who make up approximately 10 per cent of the population, as well as against Buddhists and the Ahmadiyya Muslims. Communalism is not some inevitable condition of the region, but the legacy of rule by the British imperialists, who used religion to drive a wedge between India’s Hindus and Muslims, diverting their hatred of colonial rule into a communalist slaughter that accompanied the bloody partition of India in 1947. The creation of Pakistan was justified as supposedly providing a home for one “nation” of all Muslims, but this belies the reality. Capitalist rule in Pakistan is based on the domination of the Punjabi ruling class over Pashtuns, Baluchis and other oppressed nationalities.

Bangladesh owes its existence to the mutual hostility between India and Pakistan that resulted from partition. The former East Pakistan achieved independence only when India intervened militarily on the side of the Awami League. India’s intervention had nothing to do with the Bengalis’ legitimate struggle for self-determination, but was undertaken to weaken Pakistan. With the connivance of the Awami League, India took control of the fighting. As we wrote in an article published at the time, “the just struggle of the Bengalis was entirely subordinated and integrated into the interests of the predator India at the expense of the predator Pakistan” (Workers Vanguard no 4, January 1972).

Bangladesh’s claim to secularism, which was written into the country’s first constitution, is a myth. Far from being secular, Bangladeshi nationalism is integrally linked to Muslim religious identity. For the Awami League, in independent Bangladesh “secularism” was defined in opposition to Pakistan and the religious fundamentalists such as Jamaat who had inflicted such brutality on the Bengali-speaking population. On the other hand, Bangladeshi nationalism accepted partition which forcibly divided the Bengali-speaking people along Hindu-Muslim lines. Mujib, the father of Bangladesh, had no hesitation in rebutting accusations that the Awami League was against religion: “The slanderous rumour is being circulated against us that we are not believers in Islam. In reply to this, our position is very clear. We are not believers in the label of Islam. We believe in the Islam of justice. Our Islam is the Islam of the holy and merciful Prophet” (quoted in Religion, Identity & Politics –Essays on Bangladesh, Rafiuddin Ahmed). Mujib’s rhetoric about secularism was useful when it came to harvesting votes from among Bangladesh’s Hindus. But he began to tone it down when he was forced to seek aid from Saudi Arabia when his country was stricken by devastating floods in 1974. Evidently the oil sheiks were not taken in by Mujib’s backpedalling: Saudi Arabia refused to recognise the state of Bangladesh until the day after his assassination in August 1975.

India’s claim to be a secular democracy is also false. The Indian state was founded on Hindu chauvinism and brutal oppression of minorities has been the norm, not only under the avowedly Hindu-supremacist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) but under the Congress Party as well. Congress Party politicians orchestrated violent pogroms against Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. Decades of Congress rule paved the way for the BJP to ride to governmental power on the back of murderous anti-Muslim pogroms. India’s massive military repression against Kashmir, the country’s only majority Muslim state, gives the lie to New Delhi’s claim that it is a secular democracy. Moreover it reinforces the grip of fundamentalists such as Jamaat on Muslims in Pakistan as well as in Kashmir itself.

The resurgence of religious and social reaction seen today in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is an international phenomenon. A key event was the war in Afghanistan waged by reactionary US, British and Saudi-backed Islamic fundamentalists against Soviet military forces that were invited into that country in December 1979. The funding and arming of the anti-Communist Islamic mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s in the service of the Cold War against the Soviet Union gave an enormous boost to Jamaat-e-Islami and many other Islamic insurgents. Capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union in1991-92 gave a tremendous boost to the forces of reaction around the world. It was in this context that Hindu chauvinist mobs destroyed the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in 1992, followed by widespread pogroms against Muslims. In a mirror image of the BJP’s Hindu communalist terror, Muslim fundamentalists in Bangladesh unleashed their wrath against Taslima Nasrin and against the oppressed Hindu minority.

In a recent posting on her blog No Country for Women, Nasrin expressed the hope that Shahbagh “will turn into a positive political movement for a true democracy and a secular state — a state which affirms a strict separation between religion and state, and maintains a uniform civil code, a set of secular laws that are not based on religion, but instead, on equality, and an education system that is secular, scientific, and enlightened” (“Secular Uprising in Bangladesh”, 3 March). Nasrin’s ideal of a democratic, secular Bangladesh can not be realised simply through mobilisations against the fundamentalists. Eruptions of communalist violence, including against Hindus, take place with the complicity of the central government, particularly under the BNP. Furthermore, the oppressive conditions of women in society are deeply rooted in the structure of capitalist society in neocolonial Bangladesh.

As Marxists we know that pogroms and explosions of communalism have to be ruthlessly suppressed. But the capitalist rulers are incapable of defeating the forces of political Islam. In the subcontinent, the relatively small but strategic proletariat of each country is the social force that can crush the communalists — by carrying out a socialist revolution. The working class of each country is divided by caste, religion and ethnicity. A revolutionary Marxist leadership must be forged in the fight for proletarian unity and class independence across national and religious lines. The class-conscious proletariat must take up the struggle for the emancipation of women and place itself at the head of all the oppressed, winning the rural masses to its side in a fight to overthrow the landlords and capitalists.

Proletarian socialist revolution — spread throughout South Asia and extended to the imperialist centres — can develop the productive forces on a vast scale. Eliminating scarcity will lay the material basis for freeing the masses from the yoke of religion, of caste, and for the liberation of women. What is necessary is the forging of Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard parties dedicated to the overthrow of capitalist rule in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

China: Tibetans Must Defend Socialism Against Dalai Lama

CPC and Tibetans: an alliance based on improving people's livelihoods.

CPC and Tibetans: an alliance based on improving people’s livelihoods.

Xinhua

Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng has called for lasting prosperity and stability of the Tibetan region in China by accelerating the improvement of locals’ livelihoods and fighting against the 14th Dalai Lama clique.

The Dalai Lama has long been engaged in secessionist activities, which runs against both the common interests of people of various ethnic groups and the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, said Yu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

The Dalai Lama’s “middle way,” aimed at achieving so-called “high-degree autonomy” in “Greater Tibet,” is completely opposite to China’s Constitution and the country’s system of regional ethnic autonomy, Yu said.

He urged for an absolute fight against the Dalai clique in order to realize national unification and the Tibetan region’s development and stability.

Tibetan Buddhists should politically draw a clear line with the Dalai Lama and firmly oppose any secessionist act that sabotages the CPC’s rule and the socialist system, Yu said.

The policies of the CPC Central Committee toward the Dalai Lama are “consistent and clear,” he said.

“Only when the Dalai Lama publicly announces that Tibet is an inalienable part of China since ancient time, gives up the stance of ‘Tibet independence’ and stops his secessionist activities, can his relations with the CPC Central Committee possibly be improved,” Yu said.

In Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southern Gansu Province, Yu visited herders, saying that development is the priority of the region, which includes Tibet Autonomous Region and parts of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces in western China, so as to improve the living conditions of farmers and herders.

“Only when people’s lives have been improved can they be better united with the CPC and become a reliable basis for maintaining stability,” said Yu.

China Welcomes Whistleblower Edward Snowden

china-internet

Xu Peixi

Last week, a bright idealistic young man named Edward Snowden almost single-handedly opened the lid on the U.S. National Security Agency’s PRISM program, a program which marks the bleakest moment yet in the history of the Internet due to its scope, exact country of origin and implications.

In terms of scope, major transnational service providers ranging from Google to Apple are involved in allowing the NSA to access their customers’ data for the purposes of “surveillance.” Nearly all types of services ranging from email to VoIP have come within the program’s scope and it originates in a country which dominates the world’s Internet resources – a fact which is acknowledged in the information leaked by Snowden clearly states: “Much of the world’s communications flow through the U.S.” and the information is accessible. The case indicates that through outsourcing and contracting, Big Brother is breaching the fundamental rights of citizens by getting unfettered access to their most personal communications.

As the case unfolds, there are many things to worry about. How do we make sense of the fact that the market and the state colluded in the abuse of private information via what represents the backbone of many modern day infrastructures? How do we rationalize the character of Snowden and his fellow whistleblowers? How do we understand the one-sided cyber attack accusations the U.S. has poured upon China in the past few months? To what degree have foreign users of these Internet services fallen victim to this project? Among all these suspicions, let us clarify two types of American personality.

First of all, Snowden’s case offers us a rare chance to reexamine the integrity of American politicians and the management of American-dominant Internet companies, and it appears that while many of these individuals verbally attack other nations and people in the name of freedom and democracy, they ignore America’s worsening internal situation. In an eloquent speech on Internet freedom, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that if Internet companies can’t act as “responsible stewards of their own personal information,” then they would lose customers and their survival would be threatened. In the same speech, she also urged U.S. media companies to take a proactive role in challenging foreign governments’ demands for censorship and surveillance.

Clinton was certainly under the impression that her own government was above reproach on these matters, when every piece of evidence, whether in hindsight or not, suggests the opposite. We must also remember that Clinton’s Internet freedom speech was addressing Google’s grand withdrawal from China; so, following the logical thread of her speech, it is surely now time for Google to take responsibility for leaking data and information to the NSA and withdraw from the U.S. market. David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president and chief legal officer, justified Google’s withdrawal from China by citing state “surveillance” and the “fact” that the Gmail accounts of dozens of human rights activists were being “routinely accessed by third parties”. If Google wants to be consistent with its past pronouncements, the PRISM program gives the Internet giant much more cause for action.

We can see, therefore, that when American politicians and businessmen make accusatory remarks, their eyes are firmly fixed on foreign countries and they turn a blind eye to their own misdeeds. This clearly calls into question the integrity of these rich, powerful and influential figures and gives the definite impression that the U.S. bases its own legitimacy not on good domestic governance but on stigmatizing foreign practices.

Perhaps the most confusing issue revolves around the hypocrisy of those who preach about Internet freedom abroad while they stifle it at home. The Fudan University students who listened intently to President Obama’s speech about Internet freedom and censorship at a town hall-style meeting in Shanghai in 2009 certainly took his remarks seriously. How must they be feeling now that it is obvious that President Obama himself does not believe his own Internet rhetoric? In the same vein, many like-minded young Chinese once presented flowers to Google’s Beijing headquarters to pay tribute to its “brave” and outspoken challenge to perceived state surveillance by the Chinese government. How must they be feeling in light of Google’s involvement in PRISM and with the knowledge that Google’s action against China is only part of its commercial strategy? An increasing number of Chinese people will come to understand that the democratization of domestic Chinese media is entirely different from that which happens abroad.

Second, let us look at another kind of American personality. How can we understand and explain Snowden and similar figures? These young idealists, including the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who helped to bring down President Nixon in the Watergate affair, Wiki leaks’ Julian Assange and former American soldier Bradley Manning, among others, can be categorized as the “bright feathers” of our time, to borrow some words from the popular American movie The Shawshank Redemption. Plus, they all embody the courage to fight against the system, which the film also celebrates. The 25-year old Manning is now a prisoner, having been arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to WikiLeaks. Assange has been confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for nearly a year. Snowden is on the run in Hong Kong. While human rights activists from developing countries (defined by Western apparatus for sure) are often blessed with a choice of hiding places, we are now seeing the dilemma of Western dissidents. For this reason China, despite the fact that it does not have a good reputation as far as Internet governance is concerned, should move boldly and grant Snowden asylum.

After all, what the American and British authorities have done to figures such as Snowden represents a challenge to the common sense of the global public. These people are too brilliant to be caged. Their feathers are too bright. For the surfacing evils that have been done and continue to be committed by the state-market alliance in the digital age, Snowden and those like him represent the hope and possibility that counter measures exist to combat these evils. Unfortunately, those who proclaim to the world “don’t be evil” are themselves willing cooperators in the whole game and their profit-driven nature has led them to play a major role in this evil. If intelligence work can be contracted or outsourced this way, anything can.

This is the reason why we appreciate and salute the efforts of Snowden et al, who have gambled their career, family, personal freedom, and even their life to let the global public know what the most powerful force in the world is doing with perhaps the central infrastructure of our age; to make the public aware that this force is acting in an unconstitutional manner and entirely contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To further understand the likes of Snowden, let us end with a narrative by the character Red from the Shawshank Redemption as he rationalizes the escape of his friend Andy: “Some birds are not meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice.”

Washington Deepens Crisis on Korean Peninsula

Beijing Stalinists Could Betray an Ally

Emma Johnson

Washington’s unrelenting provocations and threats against North Korea are creating an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable situation on the Korean Peninsula.

With one after another round of crippling economic sanctions and its bellicose display of nuclear military capability, Washington is leaving the government of North Korea, which has stood up to U.S. imperialism for six decades, few options. And contrary to its pretensions, the Barack Obama administration has no control over the possible consequences of this course.

The U.S. and South Korean militaries are conducting large-scale military drills on the North Korean border from March 1 to April 30, involving as many as 200,000 South Korean soldiers and some 10,000 U.S. troops.

On March 18, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced to reporters at a press conference in Seoul that B-52 bombers would carry out their second simulated nuclear raid the following day as part of the drills.

Ten days later, U.S. military officials announced that two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers flew from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to a bombing range in South Korea, dropped inert munitions and returned to the U.S. in a single, continuous mission. This is the first time a training run by a stealth bomber over South Korea has been made public.

“The Korean Peninsula is now in a touch-and-go situation due to the nuclear provocation moves,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said March 26.

On March 31, the U.S. flew F-22 stealth fighter jets, ordinarily stationed in Japan, to South Korea to participate in the military drills. F-22s are low-flying planes, capable of evading radar and air-defense systems and can also be used to escort B-2 stealth bombers in a strike.

The following day, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, said that the USS McCain, a destroyer capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, was being positioned off South Korea. A second ship, the USS Decatur, was reported to be en route from the Philippines.

The current crisis is rooted in the 1945 division of the Korean nation, imposed by U.S. imperialism. Between 1950 and 1953 Washington carried out a bloody war under U.N. auspices in an attempt to overthrow the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Korea remains the only unresolved national division coming out of World War II. To this day Washington refuses to sign a peace treaty with North Korea and maintains some 28,000 U.S. troops in the South.

“Since early in the 1950s the U.S. has made ceaseless nuclear blackmail against the DPRK,” said a March 15 press release from North Korea’s permanent mission to the U.N., referring to nuclear threats during the Korean War by then President Harry Truman. After introducing tactical nuclear weapons into South Korea in 1957, Washington announced in 1991 that it had pulled them out, part of hypocritical calls to “denuclearize the peninsula” shortly after Pyongyang began its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has long-range strategic nuclear missiles aimed at North Korea. In recent years, for example, Washington shifted the majority of its Trident submarines armed with hundreds of intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles to the Pacific, explicitly targeting North Korea and China.

“Strategic nuclear missiles in the U.S. mainland are aiming at the DPRK and submarines with nuclear warheads are swarming the waters off South Korea and its vicinity in the Pacific region,” the March 26 North Korean statement pointed out.

Last month, Pyongyang cut off all military communication lines with South Korea and declared the cease-fire from 1953 void.

On April 1, the North Korean government said it would strengthen its nuclear weapons capacity in light of U.S. provocations, but would work to further nuclear non-proliferation if there were an “improvement of relations with hostile nuclear weapons states.” North Korean officials said the government would restart its uranium enrichment plant in Yongboun, which was shut down under a nuclear disarmament deal with Washington in 2007. Two days later, Pyongyang blocked 480 workers and trucks coming from South Korea from entering Kaesong industrial park in the North, where more than 120 South Korean companies employ 53,000 North Korean workers. Kaesong is the one joint venture between North and South Korea.

According to the April 2 International Business Times, Chinese military forces have been placed on high alert and the Chinese navy has conducted a live-fire naval drill in the Yellow Sea, close to the Korean Peninsula. Beijing was a co-author with Washington of the latest round of sanctions imposed on North Korea March 7. At the same time, a long-standing defense treaty between Pyongyang and Beijing obligates China to help North Korea in the event of war.

Fidel Castro: Avoid New Korean War

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Fidel Castro Ruz

A few days ago I mentioned the great challenges humanity is currently facing. Intelligent life emerged on our planet approximately 200,000 years ago, although new discoveries demonstrate something else.

This is not to confuse intelligent life with the existence of life which, from its elemental forms in our solar system, emerged millions of years ago.

A virtually infinite number of life forms exist. In the sophisticated work of the world’s most eminent scientists the idea has already been conceived of reproducing the sounds which followed the Big Bang, the great explosion which took place more than 13.7 billion years ago.

This introduction would be too extensive if it was not to explain the gravity of an event as unbelievable and absurd as the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet.

This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, 50 years ago.

In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, in a matter of seconds, killed and irradiated hundreds of thousands of people.

General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that.

It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid.

I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary.

If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her.

Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet.

If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

Voice of America Promotes Tibetan Self-Immolation

Tibet Online

On December 2, 2012, Sangdegye, an 18-year old Tibetan young man from Xiahe County of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China’s Gansu Province, bought three liters of gasoline and some painkillers in the village grocery, and drove a borrowed motorcycle toward the nearby Bora Temple.

At 2 pm, he poured the gasoline on his clothes and set himself on fire. Although the hospital rescued him, he lost both legs forever.

Why did he set himself on fire?

“I burned myself because of the Voice of America (VOA for short),” said Sangdegye, who used to watch the VOA Tibetan-language programs, said he admired the self-immolators VOA reported on, as they were like “heroes”.

Actually, the “heroes” in the eyes of Sangdegye are also young audiences poisoned by those VOA reports.

Kimba, a regular viewer of VOA Tibetan-language programs in Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province, also watched the VOA self-immolation reports with his friend named Kumi Tenzin the day before he set himself on fire.

After hearing that the Dalai Lama would “pray for the self-immolators”, Kimba set himself alight on the Regong Cultural Square of Tongren County the next day. He did it because he “wants to be famous”.

From the screen to the reality, the Voice of America has been involved in the Tibetan self-immolation incidents. It is not only the behind plotter of the stage “heroes”, but also the “invisible killer” who grips the soul of the self-immolators.

According to the Xinhua news report, police in northwest China’s Gansu Province said on February 27, 2013 that they found Karong Takchen, a 21-year-old monk from a temple in neighboring Sichuan Province, had entered Gansu last July to organize self-immolation activities.

Karong Takchen acted under the instruction of Gantrin and Kunga, both members of the Tibetan Youth Congress, as well as Amdo, a Tibetan broadcaster for the Voice of America and a VOA journalist Palden.

He had colluded with local monks Samuten, Tashi Gyamuktso and Tentsang to recruit self-immolation volunteers in several places.

They encouraged a series of self-immolations within 20 days that led to the death of three people.

However, David Ensor, director of the VOA denied the report. Losang Gyatso, head of the Tibetan language department of the VOA claimed that “any news reports are not affected by the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan government-in-exile.”

Even the U.S. government, which has always advocated “press freedom”, stands out as shield for the VOA’s misconduct.

Victoria Nuland, spokesperson of the US State Department said in Washington that “the State Department supports the VOA’s declaration that it had not been involved in the Tibetans self-immolation incidents.”

Had the VOA really “not been involved in the Tibetans self-immolation incidents”?
How could VOA obtain first-hand materials?

Since 2012, the Tibetan Language service center of the VOA for many times first released scoops about the self-immolations taken place in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province and Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan. In 2013, the reports become much more detailed.

For example, as soon as the self-immolation took place in Aba on January 18, the VOA soon “obtained” the first-hand photos at the scene. On January 22, no sooner had a Tibetan burned himself in Xiahe County of Gansu than a photo of his identity card was uploaded on its website. On February 3, the VOA again released its exclusive report after a monk in the Roige County of Sichuan set himself on fire.

Although it is quite far from the scene, the VOA always has the first-hand material and immediately responds to the self-immolations.

“By Reviewing the reports about the self-immolations for the past two years, we have found that VOA always took the lead in releasing news of self-immolations, and most of them were exclusive reports,” a netizen commented on the website.

Could the VOA foretell the occurrence of self-immolations? Or how could it respond to them in such a short time with photos and exclusive reports?Didn’t it claim that all news in the Tibetan areas “has been strictly controlled”?

People could feel the political inclination of the VOA through every word of its reports.

The information source of the VOA is unbalanced either from the macroscopic or microcosmic point of view.

“Both its blurred information and careful choice of words are deliberate with ulterior motives,” said Song Ying, a scholar of the Beijing Foreign Studies University who has been carrying out an analytical research on the discourse of the VOA reports since 2005.

For example, she talked about a VOA report on February 26, 2013 that all quotations used were from the Tibetan activists without any words from the Chinese government. It intentionally misled readers to believe that the Tibetans “had no other choice but burned themselves as they were in a great dilemma”, and claimed that the self-immolation “is permissible by the Chinese law”.

“VOA committing crimes against the Chinese, especially Tibetans”

In order to help the U.S. government gain maximum political interest the VOA collaborates with the Dalai clique to distort truth, which is the only reasonable explanation for the VOA’s act.

The VOA stated to launch the Tibetan Language Channel in 1991. As China is becoming more powerful, the Dalai clique soon became the only bargaining chip for the U.S.government to contain China.