Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

Ireland-Ukraine : International Solidarity of the Left – Public Meeting Tuesday October 4 2022, 7.000m, Teachers’ Club 36 Parnell Square West – Russian Troops Out of Ukraine Now

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Yuliya Yurchenko – an active supporter of the European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine (ENSU) – speaks at this Dublin meeting along with Irish trade union speakers and others. https://ukraine-solidarity.eu/

Yuliya Yurchenko, author of Ukraine and the Empire of Capital: From Marketization to Armed Conflict (Pluto, 2018). She is a Lecturer in International Business and Researcher at the Public Services International Research Unit, the Centre for Business Network Analysis, and the Political Research Centre at the University of Greenwich.

An extensive interview with Yuliya is here : https://tomasoflatharta.com/2022/04/12/fighting-for-self-determination-yuliya-yurchenko-explains-for-ukrainians-its-an-existential-fight-our-countrys-identity-territorial-boundaries-and-our-very-existence-is/


Latest News from the ENSU :

Open the borders for Russians refusing military service!

Latest news from the anti-conscription movement in Russia : https://ukraine-solidarity.eu/9c8950df16724719b875eece066b3912?v=3bc1cb6bcdb84da2b0a88fdb3783cfdc

Putin’s attempt to conscript up to a million young Russians to fight in Ukraine is failing. In less than one week, more than 300,000 young Russians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries like Georgia and Kazakhstan. Hundreds of thousands are expected to seek exile in the next few weeks. We call on West European countries to open the borders to these courageous and principled young Russians, in the name of peace and justice.

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Ireland should welcome Russians who don’t want to kill Ukrainians – North and South

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The article below comes from Sweden via the USA based Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign.

Link : https://www.facebook.com/groups/307530784861174/?ref=share

The same issue arises in the Irish state – like Sweden, a member of the European Union, which is under pressure to draw down a new Iron Curtain partitioning the European continent.

See Also, from the European Network for Dolidarity With Ukraine :

Open the borders for Russians refusing military service!

https://ukraine-solidarity.eu/

Latest news from the anti-conscription movement in Russia : https://ukraine-solidarity.eu/9c8950df16724719b875eece066b3912?v=3bc1cb6bcdb84da2b0a88fdb3783cfdc

OPINION: Sweden should welcome Russians who don’t want to kill Ukrainians

In a situation already tragic beyond the imagination, banning Russian draft dodgers would only add to the tragedy in Europe.

An iron curtain is descending across Europe. But in contrast to the beginning of the Cold War, the curtain is being drawn down by EU countries – not Russia.

Any day now, Finland is poised to ban Russians from entering the country on tourist visas, to keep out men who want to avoid being drafted to fight in Ukraine. Announcing the policy, the country’s foreign minister said Finland was becoming “a transit country for Russians who want to leave their homeland for fear of being forced into war, and this traffic could harm Finland’s international position”. Opinion polls put 70 percent of the public in favour of a ban.

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“Don’t exaggerate the influence of Russian propaganda” Ukrainian socialist Taras Bilous serves in the military – and right from there he fights the stereotypes of the Western left about Ukraine (and Russia). We spoke to him

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Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF) http://www.europe-solidaire.org/ has published and translated an exceptionally good interview about Ukraine :

Taras Bilous is a Ukrainian socialist, editor of the left-wing intellectual magazine Spilne and an activist in the Social Movement. Bilous has been serving in Ukraine’s territorial defence forces since early March. And in his spare time, he engages in lively polemics with Western left-wing activists, intellectuals and politicians on Twitter and in the most authoritative left-wing publications about the need for solidarity with Ukraine. “Meduza spoke with Taras Bilous about where foreign stereotypes about Russia and Ukraine come from and what can be done about them.

Source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article63762&fbclid=IwAR3aCeR6YPuBIZBTWwUkxBZe9RMegOD1pYePv2CQ_IPm5nt4nVMF_clzobQ

See also : https://commons.com.ua/en/


In Russia there is rather little knowledge about the inner workings of Ukrainian politics, it is usually discussed only in the context of “pro-Russian – pro-Western”. Please explain what place you and Social Movement have in it.

We should start with the fact that in Ukraine, as in Russia, there are systemic and non-systemic politics.

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Ukraine: Under the cover of Putin’s war, Zelensky tears up workers’ rights

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The first article here comes from the Green Left Weekly (Australia) a supporter of the European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine (ENSU), which has also issued a statement about new anti-worker laws ratified by the Kyiv government. (see statement below). https://ukraine-solidarity.eu/

Sources :

1. https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/ukraine-under-cover-war-zelensky-tears-workers-rights?fbclid=IwAR04iwJ3n1A6-t8VFiq7Tz94_8dWCNn4m4jBqmoQIVqIYR-tWLBVijx-tEg

2. https://www.change.org/p/demand-president-zelenskyy-veto-anti-worker-law-5371/u/30858652

Almost a month after Ukraine’s parliament adopted two anti-worker bills, President Volodymyr Zelensky finally ratified Draft Law 5371 on August 17, thereby removing union rights for most of the country’s workers.

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Left Wing Excuses for Avoiding Solidarity with Ukraine

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In many parts of the world, including Ireland, a number of left wing activists and organisations favour a “plague on both houses” approach to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 2022. These currents desperately seek any excuse to blacken the Ukraine government, peddling false information which justifies an irresponsible refusal to express solidarity with heroic Ukrainian resistance. This plays into the hands of the far-right Moscow ethnic-cleansing aggressor.

One current excuse, which has duped naïve leftists in Ireland, is the claim that Ukrainian President Zelensky “banned virtually all remaining opposition parties at the outbreak of war”. The articles below, which the Swedish comrade Jan Czajkowski has written, demonstrate these claims are false and misleading.

This is the source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article63598

A related excuse popped up in Ireland when Sabina Coyne-Higgins wrote a public letter to the Irish Times – also published on the website of the Irish President Michael D Higgins. People Before Profit jumped to the defence of the Coyne-Higgins letter. The deployed excuse was that politicians from right-wing parties such as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in Ireland criticised the author.

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We are all Salman Rushdie

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The New York attempt to assassinate the writer Salman Rushdie means statements of solidarity are required.

Two declarations posted below come from the United States of America. PEN America is a branch of the worldwide association of writers which stands for

the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in the country and community to which they belong, as well as throughout the world wherever this is possible https://pen-international.org/who-we-are/the-pen-charter

From Ayad Akhtar, PEN America President It is hard to find words to express the emotions occasioned by today’s shocking attack on Salman Rushdie.

As a former President of our organization, Salman means so much to us. His leadership in the wake of 9/11 set the course for the two decades which have followed. He has been and remains a tireless advocate for imperiled writers, for unfettered intellectual and creative exchange, and one of the last half-century’s great champions of freedom of expression. But it is in his own truly seminal, challenging body of work that Salman has stood most powerfully for the values of PEN America—work that has questioned founding myths and expanded the world’s imaginative possibilities, at great cost to himself.

On a more personal note, as a writer whose own work is fundamentally shaped by an early encounter with The Satanic Verses, it is particularly horrifying to me that the nightmare set in motion by the fatwa in 1989 is still with us. We are all thinking of Salman today across the PEN America community, and praying for his recovery.Salman Rushdie delivering the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at the 2012 World Voices Festival, which he co-founded. Read his remarks on censorship here.“Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.” —Salman Rushdie, “On Censorship” 

The second declaration is a publication of Feminist Dissent :

Rushdie’s Right to Write, Our Right to Dissent

As Salman Rushdie lies gravely injured in hospital, Feminist Dissent expresses sorrow at the brutal attack on him and on Ralph Henry Reese in New York state on August 12, 2022, at an event focusing on asylum for writers. It is our fervent hope that Salman will recover to write and live a full life again. We send our love and solidarity to him, his family and friends around the world and to all those whose lives have also been endangered by this renewed threat to freedom.

Many of us are founders of Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF) which defended Rushdie in the wake of the fatwa issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 following the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. Against the demonstrations that attacked Rushdie for having hurt Muslim sentiments and calls for his book to be burnt, WAF argued that women’s right to dissent was deeply intertwined with Rushdie’s right to write.

We knew then as we know now that many calling for Rushdie’s murder were the same fundamentalist leaders who contributed to women’s oppression within communities. We spoke out in the name of our secular traditions, with the banner ‘Our tradition, struggle not submission.’

WAF was equally committed to anti-racist politics that opposed the demonisation of all Muslims as fanatical, as it was to challenging fundamentalism in all religions—Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Muslim. It called out the ways in which fundamentalists were exploiting patriarchal power to control women and sexual minorities.

Unfortunately, the dangers that we warned against then are still among us and yet, too often, they are not named. Authoritarian and fundamentalist forces are stronger than ever.

We are not only devastated by the attack on Rushdie’s life, we are angry. We are angry at the failure of both the left and the right to take a stand for freedom of speech and conscience, and to advocate for the abolition of blasphemy and apostasy laws.

All those who believe in universal values should hold to account states such as Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia which have promoted hate, organised vigilantes to attack writers, and kept alive the concept of blasphemy. 

No individual Muslim should be held responsible for the actions of another. In fact, people of Muslim heritage are often at the forefront of struggles for socialism, secularism and against blasphemy laws, yet too often their struggles are mocked and diminished as pro-imperialist or Islamophobic. We stand with them, and the struggle for secularism everywhere.

We call out Muslim fundamentalist organisations (including those in western countries) that advocate death to blasphemers such as atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, while complaining that any criticism of them is Islamophobic. We need to stop treating them as advocates of human rights.

We call out those sections of the left that see Islamists as anti-imperialist allies and attack Rushdie as a stooge of the West. Organised violence against artists, writers, feminists and free-thinking dissidents has been alchemised by post-truth politics into support for the suppression of ‘offence’. We recall the refusal of many writers to support their own organisation PEN’s award to the murdered journalists of Charlie Hebdo. In refusing solidarity, they helped create a world in which it was possible for writers or teachers to be murdered with barely an eyebrow raised in polite society.

Salman Rushdie has always understood the importance of opposing all forms of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism. He supports persecuted artists everywhere, from Ukrainians fleeing war to murdered bloggers and cartoonists.

In 1989, about 40 women of Women Against Fundamentalism confronted a huge fundamentalist march demanding death to Salman Rushdie, and the banning of his book. We shouted ‘Salman Rushdie Zindabad’ and today we repeat, ‘Long Live Salman Rushdie’.

Note: The next issue of Feminist Dissent is on Freedom of Expression. Stay tuned. https://feministdissent.org/blog-posts/rushdies-right-to-write/

Ukrainians Reject “Ridiculous” Calls for Negotiations with Putin’s Ethnic-Cleansing Invaders – That should be the Common Sense Policy of the Radical Left

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The vast majority of Ukrainians oppose a policy advocated by many western leftists who call for a ceasefire. Left-wing supporters of the ceasefire policy in Ireland – for example Sabina Coyne-Higgins (wife of Irish President Michael D Higgins) and the left-wing party People Before Profit – do not publicly engage with Ukrainians living in Ireland, who have expressed strong rejection of the recent ceasefire plea published by Ms Coyne-Higgins in the Irish Times. Here is one representative example :

Michael Baskin, who has lived in Ireland for 20 years and leads the Ukrainian Crisis Centre in Ireland, said he had spent time since the letter was published trying “to understand what Sabina Higgins was trying to say”.

“Ukraine never wanted this war. I will give a simple example. Somewhere in Ireland someone came to your house, killed your family, and tried to take it from you. Will you negotiate? Like, take a half of it and let’s live like this. It’s ridiculous.

“We can’t give up our country’s future. If we don’t stop Russia now, Ukraine won’t exist in 20 years.”

Ukrainians bridle over Sabina Higgins’s ceasefire letter
Letter by President’s wife no longer visible on Áras an Uachtaráin website – Irish Times July 30 2022

The PBP publicly backed the Coyne-Higgins Statement, stating she “had done nothing wrong”.

A number of left-wing activists disagree.

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End All Immigration Control – a Tale of Ireland and Turkey

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A correspondent, the Great Enabler, writes below about a recent Dublin government decision to stop visa-free travel to Ireland.

It is an excellent thoughtful and passionate post. I note that the main opposition party in Ireland, Sinn Féin, is “not opposed” to the Irish government decision.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has said it is not opposed to the Government move to tighten visa requirements for some refugees coming to Ireland.

“Health spokesperson David Cullinane said that the Government should have prepared better for the point when accommodation was tight.

He said the way to avoid such situations is through proper planning and by listening to organisations like the Irish Refugee Council. “. (RTÉ News)

John Meehan, July 23 2022

Immigration Control

Recently I read two news pieces in the Irish media on international travel: One was about the Irish government’s decision to stop visa-free travel to Ireland for refugees already settled in other EU states; the other one was a piece on how the Irish passport ranks very high on the list of “most powerful passports” – most powerful in terms of the freedom of movement it gives to its holders.

The plane I am travelling on is full of Irish people. Either by chit chat or eves dropping, one gathers very quickly that many have places in Turkey, summer homes. These would be very mostly homes, not luxuries villas. Others are holiday makers, excited about sea and sun. I think that’s absolutely great. People deserve holidays, people should see other countries. The powerful Irish passport is a great enabler. It takes 3-clicks and €15 to get your Turkish entry visa online. It may even be removed now.

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Biden Fist Bump – Political Candidates who make promises they do not keep

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Presidential candidates often make promises they don’t live up to after elections. Take the capital of Israel for example. For decades, U.S. …

Biden Fist Bump

Clay Jones writes about US Presidents like Joe Biden who made campaign promises they threw into the wheelie-bin once they took over at Washington DC’s White House :

Presidential candidates often make promises they don’t live up to after elections. Take the capital of Israel for example.

For decades, U.S. presidential candidates promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv. But reality would arrive after they were sworn in and they’d ignore the promise. Most nations don’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel since the Palestinians also claim it. While there are multiple resolutions from the United Nations, the European Union, and organized middle east nations, most of them come down to stating the designation of the city hasn’t been resolved, so no recognition. It would take a real dumbass to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move our embassy there as it’d be a huge obstacle to ever bringing peace between Israel and Palestine. Donald Trump is a huge dumbass. While he kept a campaign promise others did not, he made it clear that the United States, while he was president (sic), didn’t care about the Palestinian people.

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“Providing Ukraine With Weapons is a Moral Act”

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Yuliya Yurchenko, a supporter of the European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine (ENSU), has posted a message written by her comrade Andrij Zinchenko.

My dear European and American friends, what you see at this image shows that providing Ukraine with weapons is a moral act.

If you do not date to unblur this picture, let me explain what is there. Remanats of a child dead after Russian missile attack in the center of my hometown – Vinnytsya. One of these hundreds of children killed by Russian and Belorusian armies.

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