Friday, January 31, 2014

Cold reception for visiting Hungarian neo-Nazi

By New Worker


HUNDREDS of anti-fascists turned out in the cold and rain last Saturday outside Holborn Tube Station in London to protest at the visit to Britain of Gabor Vona, leader of the racist and fascist Jobbik party in Hungary.
He had come, he claimed, to address Jobbik supporters among the Hungarian expat community in London, as part of his election campaign. But there were rumours that meeting members of the fascist British National Party and the Greek Golden Dawn might also be on his agenda.
Jobbik is accused of promoting strong anti-Semitic views and fuelling hatred against Jewish and Roma communities. It has been described as the most powerful openly fascist group in Europe.
Jobbik have done well in Hungary on an explicitly anti-Jewish and anti-Roma ticket – becoming the third biggest political party in Hungary.
A Channel Four News report into a Jobbik rally in Budapest last year found a paramilitary-style militia, organised with helmets, gas masks and vitriolic language against Jewish and Roma minorities.
Neither police nor anti-fascists knew the venue for Vona’s meeting but it did not take long before people wearing T-shirts with fascistic slogans and carrying flags with Hungarian nationalist insignia started to turn up around the Tube station.
The anti-fascists reacted noisily and soon around 50 Jobbik supporters became trapped inside the station, heavily guarded by police, as anti-fascists blocked the station exits.
Among the crowd were a number of Hungarian anti-fascists who had come to tell Vona to “Takarodj” (clear off!) from London.
Labour London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore told the anti-fascist rally of the real nature of Jobbik and of efforts to get Vonar’s visit banned.
And Weyman Bennett, joint leader of Unite Against Fascism, spoke at the outrage felt by many that a person such as Vonar should be allowed to organise a rally on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.
There was a long stand-off as other Jobbik supporters turned up on the opposite side of High Holborn to see what was delaying their colleagues.
The Jobbik organisers first had to delay the start of their meeting and then the hotel where it was scheduled to happen withdrew the booking and told them to leave.
Eventually the police escorted them to conduct their meeting in the open air – in the cold and rain near the tea-hut in Hyde Park.
Around 80 of them huddled round in a tight bunch encircling Vonar as he spoke without an amplifier under a sea of umbrellas.
They were heavily guarded by police but before long groups of anti-fascists arrived and they were in full voice.
By the time they finished their gathering Vona and his supporters were left in no doubt that fascists and racists are not welcome in Britain.

The Holocaust – We will remember

By New Worker correspondent

VETERANS of the Second World War joined schoolchildren, ambassadors from Eastern Europe, local dignitaries and communists for a double event in Southwark to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
The first half of the event was hosted by the Mayor of Southwark, Councillor Abdul Mohamed, in the Amigo Hall, St George’s cathedral in Southwark.
It was opened by the entry of veterans in full uniform bearing their military standards and then the Mayor welcomed everyone.
Susan Pollack, born Zsuzsanna Biall on 9th September 1930 in Felsögód, Hungary, and held in the Vac ghetto and Monor internment camp, gave an account of her experiences in the second would war.
In May 1944, with her mother and brother, she was moved to Auschwitz, in the last transport of Hungarians. "Day after day in a dark, closed wagon, no hygiene, no food or water, people dying".
Her mother was gassed on arrival; her brother survived a bit longer, in the squad moving bodies to the ovens.
Susan was transferred to the Gubben slave labour camp and finally force-marched to Bergen-Belsen. "On liberation, I was virtually a corpse, unable to walk, and would soon have died." The liberation of that camp came only just in time for her.
With other young people she was sent to Sweden and then to Canada, where she married fellow-Hungarian Abraham Pollack, a survivor of Mauthausen.
Many years later she worked for the Samaritans, saying that it helped her cope with her memories to be able to help other people in distress. And she also took up voluntary work in a hospice. “It is my therapy,” she said.
She also continues to speak out about her experiences: “"Because I was there, I speak for those who can’t. The great evil that pervaded so many minds in a civilised country destroyed more than 50 members of my family. It is a lesson for all time: will later generations stand up for the rights of others, or remain the silent majority?”
Susan’s testimony was followed by music from Southbank Sinfonia, the recital of [A small station of Treblinka] by Wladyslav Szlengel by pupils from Notre Dame Secondary School.
A film, Journeys, was shown, Labour MP Margaret Hodge gave an address about the impact of the Holocaust on her family and the memorial candle was lit by Susan Pollack and Avram and Vera Schaufeld – also Holocaust survivors.
Then the memorial prayer, Kaddish, was said by Rabbi the Reverend Alan Greenblatt.
People then left the hall and crossed the road for the second part of the event at the Soviet War Memorial and the Holocaust Memorial tree in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park (the grounds of the Imperial War Museum).
The parade was led by the veterans carrying their standards.  Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador, told those assembled that the day was also the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad after 900 days – a feat of courage and endurance that helped to tip the balance of the Second World War against the Nazis.
Wreaths were then laid at the Holocaust tree and the Soviet War Memorial to remember the Red Army and the role it played, at great cost, in delivering the world from Nazism including a floral tribute laid by Daphne Liddle on behalf of the New Communist Party of Britain.
The Exhortation, ending with the pledge: “We will remember” was recited by Stan Ballard, a veteran of the Arctic Convoys, a two-minute silence and then the Last Post.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Community unites against fascists in Cricklewood

  By New Worker 

ANTI-FASCISTS turned out is force in Cricklewood Broadway, north London, last Saturday to counter a demonstration planned by the Britain First movement.
Britain First is one of the fairly new Nazi splinter groups that has emerged from the decline and break-up of the British National Party and includes a number of well-known thugs who were considered too right-wing and too Nazi even for the BNP.
One of these is Jim Dowson, from the occupied north or Ireland – a wealthy business man with strong ties to Ulster loyalism who used to fund the BNP until he had a spectacular falling out with BNP leader Nick Griffin.
Britain First had planned a demonstration outside a building in Cricklewood Broadway which they claimed was an organising centre for the right-wing Muslim Brotherhood. But their aim was to intimidate local Muslims generally and to raise their profile.
According to police present on the day, Britain First had not sought permission for their demonstration.
Cricklewood is a very mixed area with large Muslim and Irish communities and the local traders and shoppers were aware something was going on as the anti-fascists assembled in front of the building targeted by Britain First.
Many members of the Labour Representation Committee were there as well as members on Unite, and PCS unions and Brent Trades Council with a couple of banners and members of the Irish community. They had come not as a gesture of support to the Muslim Brotherhood but in solidarity with the local Muslims in general and absolute opposition to the Nazis trying to establish their presence in the locality.
There was a long wait for the fascists to arrive – all 28 of them led by Britain First chair Paul Golding – carrying Union Jacks and being marched by police at high speed from the local station where they had assembled and singing Onward Christian Soldiers out of tune.
But as soon as they reached their small, designated police pen opposite the anti-fascist group, the anti-fascist numbers multiplied instantly as members of the local community crowded around to join in.
The anti-fascists filled the air with chants of: “Nazi scum, off our streets” and “Black and white, unite and fight, together we are dynamite”.
The fascists also chanted and shouted furiously and sang the National Anthem out of tune but they could in no way match the anti-fascists either in number or sound. And their numbers soon started to dwindle as they realised there was no useful point to their action.
One of the fascists became so angry and excited the police had to separate him from the rest and put him on a “naughty step” to calm down.
Meanwhile from the anti-fascists, local Muslim youths, using the Brent Trades council megaphone, also urged the fascists to calm down: “You’re supposed to be a peaceful demonstration,” they said.
If anything the presence of the fascists prompted the local community, in all its wide ethnic diversity, to come together as one in opposing them.
Dowson himself did not appear, possibly because of bail conditions imposed on him as he is facing charges in relation to Ulster Loyalist violence over a change in policy about flying the Union Jack on civic buildings.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Standing by Cuba

                                                                                                                                       by New Worker 

Len McCluskey and Esther Cardenas
 Friends of Cuba were out in force to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Cuban revolution  at the Simon Bolivar Hall in central London last Monday.
            Cuban ambassador Esther Armenteros Cardenas welcomed guests that included NCP leader Andy Brooks and Central Committee member Daphne Liddle as well business people, academics and diplomats and representatives covering the whole spectrum of solidarity with the socialist island in Britain. And Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite and Prof Sue Michie of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign urged all those present to support an International Commission of Inquiry that will meet in March in London.
Internationally renowned commissioners will hear first-hand evidence from witnesses about their experiences of terrorism against Cuba and the arrest, trial, legal appeals and treatment and sentencing of the Cuban, or Miami, Five.
Former Miami Five prisoner René González will attend the event and give evidence to the Commission. He is the first and only member of the Miami Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence in the United States.
He will be joined by family members, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world including  Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker.
The Commission will be presided over by distinguished international jurors from India, South Africa and France.  It will hear testimony from around 20 key witnesses including US defence attorney Martin Garbus, representatives from Amnesty International, and  Miami Five family members. There will also be testimony from specialists on the range of measures taken to defend Cuba against the threat of terrorist attacks, as well as testimony from Cuban and international victims of US based terrorism.
In his New Year message René González urged support for the International Commission of Inquiry and said: “When we were imprisoned 15 years ago, our captors never imagined that from all corners of the world people like you would take up our cause.
“Instead of suffering defeat we have become stronger. During this time we have suffered hardships and lost people close to us. But our spirits never broke because we knew we could count on people from all over the world like you. Your solidarity and sense of justice has kept us and our families strong.”
The International Commission is the major event of the Voices for the Five  campaign which has brought together hundreds of international celebrities including John Le Carré, Emma Thompson, Danny Glover, Lord Rowan Williams, Martin Sheen, Noam Chomsky, Günter Grass, Peter Capaldi and Dame Vivienne Westwood.
They have been joined by thousands who have posted messages of support to the web based campaigning site.
A number of associated events will take place including a major international concert at the Barbican Hall in London featuring acclaimed Cuban musician and star of the Buena Vista Social Club Eliades Ochoa and his group Cuarteto Patria, alongside other international performers and guests, as well as associated screenings and exhibitions.
The two day International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Miami Five will take place on 7th and 8th March 2014, at the Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL.
Tickets for the Commission are £10 per day and available at: Demand is expected to be high so please book as soon as possible.