On 9, 10 and 11 December, in more than twenty countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe, rallies, demonstrations, information pickets, public meetings and press conferences took place in response to the call by the World Conference Against War and Exploitation, for a Workers’ International, held in the Paris region on 29 and 30 October.
At this conference, delegates from thirty-two countries had called for these dates to be international days of mobilisation against war and exploitation, under the slogans: « Immediate and unconditional ceasefire! Withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, withdrawal of NATO troops from Europe! Foreign troops out of the countries they occupy! Not one penny, not one weapon for this unjust war! Billions for wages, schools, hospitals, not for war! No support for war warmongering governments!”
These are the slogans, translated into all languages, that resounded throughout the world, including in countries where activists, braving war and repression, were determined to take part in these rallies.
And this while, especially in the major imperialist countries, the leaders of the major labour organisations and the main parties of the “Left” persist in supporting war warmongering governments. Do they not hear statements to this effect becoming more and more frequent, such as that of NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, who threatened on Norwegian television on 9 December that « the war in Ukraine will get out of hand and turn into a major war between NATO and Russia« ?
The workers, the workers’ activists of all tendencies, the young people who gathered on 9, 10 and 11 December, indicate to the international working class that there is another way: that of the unity of the workers of the whole world against the warmongering capitalist governments, under the flag of the fight for a Workers’ International.
In Afghanistan, our correspondents report, the Radical Left of Afghanistan (LRA) held clandestine rallies on 9 December, « in conditions where the bloody Taliban dictatorship has banned all protests and where revolutionary, socialist and secular forces are not allowed to act legally (…). Despite the executions and arrests, the LRA and other organisations held meetings in Kabul and other cities on the International Days. Comrade K. said that the forces of the revolutionary left and women activists of Afghanistan, victims of the US-NATO war in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021, express their sympathy with the Ukrainian people because they have experienced in their flesh the tragedies imposed on the poor by imperialist wars. Mrs. W, a mother of six young children, who lost her husband in the war in 2019, expressed her hatred of war, saying she does not accept that other children in any part of the world should suffer the same fate as her own. Participants approved a message affirming the international solidarity of workers, women and youth around the world and calling on them to support the people and women of Afghanistan, victims of twenty years of barbaric USNATO war. »
At the same time, in China, where political rallies are banned, « a group of workers from China and Hong Kong » were circulating a leaflet entitled « We are concerned ». They state: « We are deeply concerned about the escalating war in which the great powers, including Russia, the United States and NATO member states, are stepping up their military involvement. We condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but urge peaceful means of conflict resolution. Wars condemn workers and peoples to homelessness, joblessness and landlessness (…). As Chinese workers, we are also concerned about the rising tensions around the Taiwan question and that these tensions could lead to a direct military confrontation between the Western world and China. »
On 10 December, a street demonstration was held in the industrial city of Lahore, Pakistan, which was widely reported in the press the following day. Our correspondents report: « The Pakistan Federation of Trade Unions (APTUF) demonstrated as part of the International Day of Struggle against War and Exploitation. Workers from the private sector and the railways participated. The march was led by Rubina Jamil, Anwer Gujjar, Nasir Gulzar and Muhammad Ilyas. The demonstrators chanted: ‘Russian troops out of Ukraine, NATO troops out of Europe and other countries!’, ‘Billions for salaries, school and health, not for war!’, ‘We want peace, work, bread, not war’, etc. Rubina Jamil and Nasir Gulzar took the floor to reiterate that we, workers, peasants, students, teachers, demand an immediate end to the war, to stop pouring billions of dollars into this war while in some countries children and human beings are losing their lives for lack of food and basic health services.”
In Bangladesh, two rallies were held, in the capital, Dhaka, and in the western city of Khulna. Activists from the Bangladesh National Workers’ Federation (BJSF) and the Workers’ Democratic Party (DWP) expressed their rejection of the imperialist war, linking this struggle to workers’ demands: « Stop the war; freeze prices; save workers », proclaimed the banners held up by the activists, many of whom were women workers.
On the evening of 9 December, in Quezon City (a suburb of Manila, in the Philippines), our correspondents report, a demonstration took place, « in which around 200 members of the Workers’ Party (PM) participated. Joining the call to demonstrate by the human rights coalition IDefend, we included in this initiative the fight against war and exploitation, the demand to stop the war in Ukraine and around the world. We also demonstrated for the release of all political prisoners in the Philippines.” Workers’ Party initiatives continued on 10-11 December with a Women’s and Youth Festival against the war.
In Istanbul, Turkey, activists, including those from the Workers’ Own Party (IKEP), gathered in Beyazit Square, holding banners that read « Down with war! Down with exploitation! No to any military intervention in the Middle East! Russian troops: out of Ukraine! Dissolve NATO ». Several activists took the floor. The police tried to prevent the activists from making their statement to the press. Nevertheless, the following statement was made: « Imperialists: Hands off the Middle East and Eurasia! You are provoking war in the Middle East, whose resources you have already plundered and exploited for over a century. You have used your tanks, cannons, guns, planes, ships and bombs to carry out this exploitation. Now you are using them again, but you need more. Now you are trying to divide the peoples of the region. You use the State of Israel and the so-called ‘Muslim States’ that cooperate with Israel. You are using them against the Palestinian people, against the Kurdish people and all other oppressed peoples (…). The only way to stop these wars is to end the exploitation.”
A few dozen kilometers from the Ukrainian border, in the town of Targu-Jiu, Romania, a workers’ meeting was held under the chairmanship of Constantin Cretan, a Romanian miners’ union leader who served a long prison sentence in 2004 for his trade union activities, before an audience composed in particular of trade union activists from the energy sector. The unanimous resolution adopted denounces: « The reality is that the war in Ukraine, between the United States and Russia, has exacerbated the already existing inequalities in our society and is a pretext for the oligarchy to put the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the working class (…). The Romanian government, subservient to the United States and the European Union, has chosen the path of war, with NATO, establishing military bases, hosting foreign troops and acquiring combat equipment. The military budget has been increased to 2.5% of GDP, while sick pensioners are left to die for lack of medicine, medical assistance, heating and electricity!”
In Germany, two meetings were held, on 10 December in Sömmerda and on 11 December in Düsseldorf. Participants included many trade union delegates (DGB and Ver.di leaders), but also activists from Die Linke and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the latter having come to express their disagreement with the policy of Chancellor Scholz, which is in line with NATO’s war policy. The two meetings were also an opportunity to present the appeal of the International Committee for the Defence of Afghan Women.
Belgium, a public meeting was organized in Liège, attended by workers and activists from different political affiliations (Internationalist Socialist Organisation, Socialist Party of Struggle, etc.). It was an opportunity to denounce the involvement of the De Croo government – which Socialist Party ministers – in the NATO war machine. A worker of Russian origin called on the participants to support forces (workers’ activists, mothers and wives of ‘mobilised’ soldiers) in Russia who are fighting the war and the oligarchs’ regime.
« Neither Putin, nor Biden, nor Meloni » (the far-right Italian Prime Minister), proclaimed the invitation to the debate which, in Italy, brought together fifty-five workers, activists and young people from Turin (but also from other regions of Italy by video conference). Nine activists, representatives of organisations or trade unionists introduced the debate, including the secretary of a section of the Communist Refoundation Party, the secretary of the National Association of Italian Partisans (ANPI), activists from the « School for Peace » appeal, from the Anti-Capitalist Left and from the monthly workers’ newspaper Tribuna Libera, as well as trade union activists from different professional sectors.
In Barakaldo, in the working class suburb of Bilbao (Basque Country, Spanish State), twelve workers and activists met to debate with one of the delegates from the Spanish State to the International Conference of Working Women and the World Conference Against War and Exploitation, for a Workers’ International. Of note were interventions denouncing the policies of the monarchy’s government, a member of NATO and composed of the Socialist Party PSOE, the Communist Party/United Left and Podemos.
In France, rallies and public meetings took place in more than 60 cities. Activists of the Independent Democratic Workers’ Party (POID) and the Federation of Young Revolutionaries (FJR) mobilised throughout the country. Despite the refusal of the national leaderships of the PCF and LFI, many activists of these parties were present in the rallies. Hundreds of workers and young people gathered a few metres from the National Assemblée which voted almost unanimously to support the NATO offensive.
In Great Britain, trade union activists, current and former members of the Labour Party, and antiwar campaigners wrote an open letter to Keir Starmer, the senior leader of the Labour Party, on the occasion of the International Days, saying: « Keir Starmer, for months you have been supporting the militaristic policies of the Conservative government which is delivering billions and billions of pounds worth of arms, imposing sanctions which hit the Russian people far more than the oligarchs, and funding NATO. Keir Starmer, by supporting this war, by declaring the Labour Party to be ‘the party of NATO’, you do not speak in our name. By supporting this war outside our country, you are supporting the social war it implies inside our country. »
In the Americas, a bi-national meeting was held on 10 December in the Mexican city of Tijuana, bringing together labour activists from Mexico and the United States. It was an opportunity for activists on both sides of the border – and the « separation wall » that the US authorities have erected against workers fleeing misery and violence in Central America and Mexico – to denounce the war « inside », and in particular Biden’s use of a 1926 antiunion law to ban railroad workers from striking.
In Canada, a NATO member country, a meeting was held on 11 December, at the end of which a committee against war and exploitation was formed.
In Brazil, a meeting was held on 12 December at the University of Curitiba (in the state of Paraná), which brought together trade unionists and political activists (Workers’ Party, PSOL). One of the PT activists who spoke stressed: « The representative of US imperialism recently sent a ‘national security advisor’ to Brazil, so that the next Lula government would ‘cooperate’ with NATO in the war in Ukraine. Biden will not be an ally for the workers who voted for Lula! »
In Peru, where hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants demonstrated against the impeachment of president-elect Pedro Castillo, an internationalist meeting was held around the delegate to the world conference, bringing together Peruvian activists, as well as activists from Argentina and Chile.
If there is one continent ravaged by imperialist wars of plunder, it is the African continent. And it is in the heart of one of its most martyred regions – the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – that we have received this information, which can only strengthen labour activists around the world. In the DRC, the international days against war and exploitation were used as the occasion by workers in Goma (North Kivu) and Uvira (South Kivu) to set up committees of the Independent Democratic Party of Workers and Peasants, which fights for peace and therefore for the sovereignty of the nation, driving out the multinationals that plunder the country and keep the war going.
In neighbouring Burundi, the Democratic Workers’ Party (PDT) also convened a meeting in Bujumbura, demanding, among other things, “respect for the sovereignty of the peoples and the immediate repatriation of Burundian troops and all the auxiliary troops of imperialism from Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, etc. The cancellation of all the measures of price increases which lead to the erosion of workers’ wages, which were already derisory, and which plunge families into untold hardship and poverty.”
In Benin, a meeting of the International Workers’ Committee was held on 11 December in Porto-Novo. Our correspondents report: « Workers, craftsmen, labourers and students of various origins took part in the meeting. Comrades Innocent Assogba and Liliane Gnonlonfoun reported on international initiatives and illustrated the consequences of war and exploitation throughout the world and particularly in Africa, underlining how the various governments of African countries are only the executors of the dirty work of capitalism and the multinationals. The participants particularly insisted on the demand for the withdrawal of French troops and military bases.”
In Morocco, activists who supported the world conference issued a statement in five cities that concluded: « In the name of war, the government says it is unable to cope with the increase in food and fuel prices, unable to satisfy the needs of the population. The Moroccan labour movement, especially the national trade union organisations, have a sacred duty to act against the war that threatens mankind and all modern civilisation. It has the duty to refuse any form of sacred union with the government in the service of world capitalism (…). Down with war, down with exploitation!”
In Johannesburg, South Africa/ Azania, a rally was held on 10 December in a park near Gandhi Square. In an appeal issued today, activists from the Azanian section of the 4th International said: « We have seen the millions forced to emigrate to escape war and end up humiliated when they try to find asylum in Europe. We have seen the makeshift boats capsize and the refugees drown in the oceans trying to save their lives, fleeing wars. Under the capitalist regime, there are no morals, and the life of a human being is less important than profit (…). In order to defend humanity and a peaceful future, it is our duty to draw inspiration from the October Revolution of 1917, through which the masses won land, bread and peace.”
With our correspondents around the world