People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 20

May 20, 2012

Basudeb Acharia


IN Lok Sabha, CPI(M) group leader Basudeb Acharia said that while we are observing the 60th year of our parliament, we should remember those who laid down their lives and went to the gallows. The sacrifices of the heroes of our freedom struggle won us independence and we adopted the parliamentary democratic system of governance. We will have to seriously think whether the problems of inequality, discrimination, poverty, exploitation, etc have increased or decreased, and whether the intent of the founding fathers of the constitution has been implemented in letter and spirit, in this 60 years period. We see that the poverty has not reduced; happiness has not come to the people. The gap between the rich and the poor has increased. Lakhs and lakhs of people are still born under the sky and die under the sky. We have not been able to provide shelter to 100 per cent of our population. We cannot even provide safe drinking water to the poor. We must seriously think of the tribals and dalits whose conditions have not improved. If a farmer commits suicide after 64 years of independence, we will have to seriously think over it. Another major problem which is corroding our parliamentary democracy is the use of money power in elections. If voters and votes are purchased, what will happen to the parliamentary democracy? There is a need for electoral reforms. Unless there is state funding of elections, we will not be able to curb the use of money power. Something has to be done to cleanse the system and protect it from corrosion. We should seriously ponder over it. The problems of discrimination, exploitation, pauperisation of the people, starvation and illiteracy still exist in this country, and we cannot enjoy the successes and achievements of our parliamentary democracy unless we remove these ills.


The sitting extended till the evening. Both the houses adjourned after passing a resolution to uphold the dignity and supremacy of parliament.


Joint Statement issued by the Communist & Workers' Parties


NATO, A Threat to World Peace!



Below we publish the joint statement of the Communist and Workers' parties on NATO issued on May 17, 2012. The CPI(M) has signed the statement along with many other parties.


IN an international situation marked by the deepening crisis of capitalism and by the violent imperialist offensive against the achievements and rights of the workers and peoples, a NATO summit will take place on May 20-21, in Chicago, USA.


In the context of an ever-deeper crisis of capitalism, imperialism embarks on a militaristic and interventionist escalation.


Having renewed NATO's strategic concept in 2010 - a new and dangerous qualitative step in its interventionist ambitions, of which the aggression against Libya was an example – the USA and NATO, which has the EU as its European pillar, seek to expand their sphere of influence, promote an arms race and ever greater military spending, invest in new weapons and in their worldwide network of military bases.


Imperialism militarizes international relations, proceeds with occupations, threatens new aggressions, promotes conspiracies and manoeuvers of interference in countries of every continent. The principles of the UN Charter are seriously jeopardized and the process which seeks to destroy International Law is accompanied by an ever greater instrumentalization of the UN, with a view to whitewashing imperialist violence and its goals of controlling resources and markets and of military and geostrategic domination.


NATO, being imperialism's main instrument in its quest for world domination, is an enormous threat to world peace and security.


But, as the facts are demonstrating, imperialism's force-based response to the crisis of capitalism is having to confront the progressive and revolutionary struggle of the peoples, which in various parts of the world are taking into their own hands the defense of their rights and the sovereignty and independence of their countries and are resisting in the most diversified ways, imposing setbacks to the strategy of imperialist domination.


Reaffirming thier commitment to the struggle for peace, for the right of each people to freely decide its destiny, for social progress and socialism, the Communist and Workers' Parties signing this declaration:


- Demand the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, as well as those in all other imperialist interventions in the World;


- Reject the escalation of war in the Middle East, namely against Syria and Iran;


- Demand the dissolution of NATO and support the sovereign right of peoples to decide to disassociate their countries from this aggressive alliance;


-   Reject the deployment of the US and NATO's new antimissile system in Europe and demand an end to foreign military bases;

-   Demand an end to the arms race, nuclear disarmament starting with the world's major nuclear powers – such as the USA - and the complete destruction of chemical and biological weapons;

-   Express their solidarity with the peoples that resist imperialist occupation, aggression and interference, namely in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa


Chilean Communists Celebrating

Hundred Years of Struggle

THE Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) is celebrating its 100th anniversary of foundation. It was founded as the Partido Obrero Socialista, (Socialist Workers’ Party) on June 12, 1912 by Luis Emilio Recabarren, along with 30 miners and workers in the northern Chilean city of Iquique, in the office of the newspaper El Despertar de los Trabajadores (The Workers’ Awakening). The name of the party was changed into the Communist Party at the Party’s Second Congress on January 2, 1922 and in the same year it became a member of the  Communist International.


Over decades of struggle, Chilean Communists have faced periods of intense persecution and were forced to work underground on a number of occasions. Members were attacked, imprisoned and murdered. The torture and death of renowned Marxist singer/songwriter Víctor Jara was one of the worst crimes of the 17-year Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, which failed to eliminate Communist ideas in Chile, despite its brutality.


While forced to work underground, the PCCh supported Salvador Allende for the first time in the presidential elections of 1952. Towards this end, they established, with the Socialist Party, the National Liberation Front or People’s Front. The Front was defeated in this election and also in the subsequent elections in 1958. But the Party gained popularity and allies. The struggle continued to intensify until in 1969, another coalition was formed (including the PCCh), to enter the 1970 elections as the Popular Unity alliance with a program which attracted the masses, fed up with the broken promises of the bourgeois parties.


Allende won, but the nationalisation of the copper industry and other measures meant to benefit the poorest sectors of the population were unacceptable to the oligarchy. With the help of the United States and the fascist military led by Pinochet, on September 11, 1973 they organised a bloody coup, which left in its wake thousands of people dead, missing or tortured. The Party’s Secretary General Luis Corvalán, too was taken prisoner and most of the Central Committee members were forced into exile, leaving a vacuum and a level of disorganisation. The party remained banned until the end of the Pinochet regime.


The Communist Party of Chile (PCCh), over the course of its 100 years of existence, in spite of various obstacles, found ways to carry on its struggle for liberty and social justice. Its significant prestige was evident during the massive student demonstrations last year which challenged President Sebastián Piñera’s right-wing government. In the vanguard of the movement were Karol Cariola, secretary general of the Young Communists and Camila Vallejo, a member of its executive and currently vice president of the nation’s Student Federation. Thousands of students demanded  free, quality education and did not retreat despite brutal repression. Communists also supported the demands of workers and the massive protests against the government’s neo-liberal policies, as well as calls to reform the constitution. It is these consistent struggles that are earning the party immense support among the people even today.


Syria: Regime Change Plans Derailed


Yohannan Chemarapally


THE veto exercised by Russia and China on February 4 in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the resolution against Syria and the retreat by the rebels from cities like Homs and Idlib in March have put the plans for regime change in Syria, hatched in western capitals, on hold. The West and its allies in the Arab world, headed by Saudi Arabia, had hoped that a Libya like scenario could be replicated in Syria.




Now that the prospects of open foreign military intervention in Syria have dimmed, the rebels hope to plunge the country into a long drawn out civil war. Al Qaeda too has entered the fray in a big way. Suicide bomb attacks have started occurring at regular intervals in the capital Damascus and the country’s second largest city, Aleppo. The rebels continue to be supplied with money, training and heavy weaponry by a host of nations, led by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with active encouragement from western powers. Like in the case of Libya, western capitals are using the auspices of the Arab League to institute a regime change in Damascus.


The Arab League resolution, presented to the UNSC, masqueraded as an attempt to bring a peaceful end to the violence that has gripped Syria since March last year. The resolution in fact was a blueprint for regime change as it demanded the resignation of the Syrian president and the holding of multiparty elections. The resolution had gone on to state that it would review Syria’s implementation of the key clauses within 15 days of it being passed. The resolution had warned that, in case of Syria’s non- compliance, “further measures” would be adopted in consultation with the Arab League.


The American secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, while pronouncing from the rooftops that “Assad has to go,” also kept on insisting that there were no plans “to pursue any kind of military intervention.” The French foreign minster, who played a big role in unleashing the dogs of war in Libya, said that the talk of foreign intervention in Syria “is a myth.” The British foreign secretary, William Hague, also said that the resolution did not envisage use of military force but then went on to add that other “measures will be considered” if there is no immediate end to the violence in Syria. Surprisingly, India too sided with the Arab League sponsored resolution.




Till recently, India was consistent in its support for Syria. The two countries have had a strong bilateral relationship for the last four decades.  But recent instances have shown that when it comes to crunch situations, India end up by siding with the West. It happened earlier in the IAEA on the resolutions censuring Iran. During the passing of the UNSC resolution on Libya, India had abstained. Indian officials claim that abstention was not an option this time. They claim that India worked overtime to include clauses in the resolution that would ensure that the will of Syrian people would be the decisive factor, not outside military intervention. They also say that the Arab League’s stand on Syria was an important factor that led to India voting for the resolution, which called for the resignation of the Syrian president. South Asian diplomats based in Damascus told this correspondent during a recent visit that President Assad continues to be popular among ordinary Syrians and would get around 60 per cent of the votes if the opposition agrees to the holding of fair and free elections. Recent reports in the western media have admitted that President Assad continues to have the support of the minority groups as well as the secular members of the majority Sunni community.


The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had warned that the passing of the UNSC resolution on Syria would inevitably lead to another Libya like military intervention. Lavrov pointed out that the resolution’s call “to withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns and return them to their original home barracks” was an ultimatum no sovereign government could accept. And in the case of Syria, the insurrection was being aided and abetted by the West. He said that there was no justification for unleashing bombs on Syria just because the opposition there was refusing to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the government. China’s ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong, told the UNSC that his country was opposed to “pushing for forced regime change in Syria as it violates the UN Charter and the basic norms guiding the practice of international relations.”


Washington and its allies had worked overtime to convince Russia and China to go along with the Arab League resolution. Behind the scenes assurances were given that their interests in Syria would not be affected by regime change. Syrian opposition leaders were dispatched to meet Russian diplomats to assure them that Russian interests will be preserved in a post-Assad era. Syria has been a long standing ally of Moscow. Much of the weaponry for the Syrian security forces is provided by Russia. In recent period, China has also been selling military equipment to Syria. Both Moscow and Beijing are well aware that the regime change project envisaged by West for Syria is part of the grand strategy to weaken the resistance to US hegemony in the region. If Assad falls, the Lebanese resistance movement --- the Hezbollah --- will be next in Washington’s crosshairs. After that it will be the turn of Iran. War clouds are already hovering over Iran with the US military significantly bolstering its presence in the Persian Gulf.




After the resolution failed in the Security Council, western leaders were sharply critical of Moscow and China. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, stated that Russia and China bore “the responsibility for the horrors that are occurring on the ground in Syria.” The Arab street has not forgotten that the US has wielded the most number of vetoes in the Security Council, most of them on behalf of its closest ally in the region --- Israel. The massacres of Palestinians and Lebanese by Israeli forces through the years have gone uncensored and unpunished with the connivance of Washington. As for the US itself, it has been responsible for the worst instances of human rights violations. The massacre of civilians in Fallujah is only a recent illustration.


In the last couple of months, the Syrian government has made several gestures to show to the international community that it was serious about ending the cycle of bloody violence. The Arab League was allowed to send in its monitoring mission despite misgivings about its motives. The head of the Arab League’s mission, Mohammad al-Dabi, had in his report said that the situation was improving when the observers were on the ground. Al-Dabi, a former intelligence chief of Sudan, while addressing a press conference in Cairo in third week of January, criticised the foreign media for exaggerating the violence in Syria, stressing that the situation inside the country had improved since the monitoring mission began its work in December. He also said that the Syrian government fully cooperated with the mission. But Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are backing the Islamist dominated Syrian National Council and the Free Syria Army, are fixated on regime change in Damascus. The Arab League’s monitoring mission issued a report which said that the government alone was not responsible for the continuing bloodshed. Saudi Arabia, the main financier of the mission, withdrew its observers, unhappy with the report. The mission was forced to cease its work and withdraw from Syria.


On February 12, al-Dabi was forced to resign as head of the monitoring mission by the Arab League. After that a request was put to Damascus for the observer’s mission to be allowed in once again. This time the Syrian government refused to grant permission as the Arab League in its meeting in Cairo on February 12 had also called for a joint peace keeping force comprising of the UN and the Arab League states to Syria.


The Arab League’s monitoring commission’s report had categorically stated that there was no organised, lethal attack by the Syrian government against peaceful protestors. Instead, the report stated that armed gangs were responsible for carrying out terror attacks against civilians, leading to the thousands of deaths, including over a thousand Syrian troops. The report gave specific instances of bombing of civilian buses and trains and the sabotaging of gas pipelines.




The five member Arab League’s Ministerial Committee approved the report, with only Qatar voting against it. Qatar has now assumed the chairmanship of the Arab League though it was the turn of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to do so. The PA vacated the post in favour of Qatar. Qatar has since announced 400 million dollars in aid to the cash strapped PA. The Emir of Qatar had issued an appeal for open military intervention in Syria, saying that his country was willing to deploy troops there. Qatar, along with France and Britain, was among the first countries to send Special Forces clandestinely to Libya when the counter-revolution against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi began early last year. New Delhi too ignored the Arab League’s monitoring mission’s report and preferred to cast its lot with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which dominates decision making in the Arab League and the West on the issue of regime change in Syria.


It has been evident for some months that sections of the Syrian opposition are aligned with terror groups. The western media still gives credence to allegations that all the terror attacks are the handiwork of the government. The al Qaeda has claimed credit for the three big terror attacks in Damascus and Aleppo. In a video recording released in the second week of February, the al Qaeda chief, Ayman al Zawahri, called on Muslims in the region to join the uprising against “the pernicious, cancerous regime” in Syria. Another report from Tripoli quoted the Libyan foreign minister as saying that the interim government will not stop Libyans from joining the fight against the Syrian government. The interim government in Libya, installed under NATO supervision, has already recognised the Syrian National Council and has formally handed over the Syrian embassy in Tripoli to the rebel group. The Libyan Islamist leader, Abdulhakim Belhadj, who now occupies a top position in the government, met with leaders of the Syrian Free Army in Istanbul recently. According to reports, Libyan fighters were among the first foreign fighters to reach Syria and fight alongside the Syrian rebels in hotspots like Homs and Hama. There are also unconfirmed reports about Qatari and British Special Forces helping the Free Syrian Army. Washington has called for the establishment of a “humanitarian corridor” to assist the anti-government rebels in Syria.