The Follow-Up Committee of the International Workers’ Committee against War and Exploitation (IWC) met on 12 January. Participants included activists from Benin, Burkina Faso, China, Germany, France, Haiti, India, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa/Azania and the United States.
In his introduction, Daniel Gluckstein made the following point: the World Conference against War and Exploitation (Paris29 and 30 October 2022) « called for the withdrawal of Russian troops, the withdrawal of US and NATO troops and an end to imperialist and neocolonial interventions. Workers have no interests in common with multinationals and war-mongering governments. But – especially in the major capitalist countries – they are facing the refusal of the leaders of the main workers’ organisations and ‘left’ parties to oppose the war. What we called for was to build the unity of workers and peoples around the world, to impose peace”. He reiterated the success of the International Days against War on 9, 10 and 11 December 2022 and concluded « We have therefore implemented the decisions of the World Conference ».
The same applies to the campaign of the International Committee for the Defence of Afghan Women. Christel Keiser (France) reported that thousands of memberships have been collected worldwide. She emphasised the need « to support the demonstrations of the Afghan Women’s Spontaneous Movement against the Taliban’s decision to drive women out of schools, universities and workplaces, etc. » In France, steps have been taken to approach the President of the Republic to grant asylum to activists under threat of death.
« This is also the case in Mexico, » Liliana Plumeda says, « we have collected about fifty signatures for the International Committee for the Defence of Afghan Women. We are going to hold a meeting in the coming week to coordinate the messages of support collected from several different places in Mexico, to write a letter to the president and request an appointment at the Afghan embassy. We have also started a fund collecting campaign. »
Rubina Jamil explained that in Pakistan, many activists, lawyers and democrats have joined the International Committee, while some – such as the former prime minister – have not failed to show their solidarity with the Taliban government. A government, as noted by Alan Benjamin (United States), « which we must remember was restored to power by the American administration in August 2021. That is why our government is responsible for the Taliban’s crimes against the women of Afghanistan. »
In the discussion, Nnamdi Lumumba (USA) explained: « In the United States, the propaganda sometimes makes it difficult to establish the link between austerity and war. However, the result of the state governor election in Maryland was significant: the three minority political parties scored much higher than usual, indicating that the population no longer wishes to follow the imperialist positions of the two major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. But the situation is still unclear, and we must find a way to reinforce this suspicion in the working class and its weary of the two majority parties. »
This is all the more necessary as in each country « the political, economic and social crisis is worsening, » said Nambiath Vasudevan (India). « Our country has not overcome the Covid crisis and is going through a political and economic crisis: while part of the population depends on food aid, a small section of the bourgeoisie generates significant profits. No political party in India can really defy the majority ruling party. Regarding the war in Ukraine, India occupies a special position, since it has a friendly relationship with Russia but firmly opposes China. »
Jung Sikhwa (Korea) stressed that « the South Korean government is increasingly committed to military confrontation while hitting increasingly hard on workers and the trade union movement. There is mutual escalation, and the risk of conflict around the buffer zone between the two parts of Korea is increasingly likely in the near future. That is why all Koreans should launch a peace movement on the peninsula but the population is very divided. Part of the population supports the current regime and refuses any pacifistic dialogue with North Korea. We meet every Saturday in front of the presidential office, especially to demand the cessation of joint exercises with the United States. »
Denouncing the worldwide US military deployment, Alan Benjamin (United States) stated: « On December 29, a record military budget of 858 billion dollars was adopted, plus 45 billion for NATO’s war effort in Ukraine. There is a « sacred union » for war, bringing together the two parties of the bosses – Democrats and Republicans – with the leadership of the AFL-CIO (trade union federation) which has not uttered a single word of criticism against the war. But in the trade union movement, some first positions against war are surfacing.
These workers’ positions against war are directly linked to the Biden administration’s « war at home » against workers, in particular the fact that the right to strike of the 120,000 railway workers who mobilized for their demands has been challenged. »
Rubina Jamil (Pakistan) noted: « In my country, the major political parties are fighting among themselves, and they forget the problems that the working class are facing. Debating on the war in Ukraine and its consequences with the people and politicians in Pakistan – we travel from one city to another to talk about these problems with the working class. »
Klaus Schüller (Germany) shared the observation « that the leaderships of the workers’ parties and the trade unions are lining up behind the war-mongering government. Meanwhile, the economic situation in Germany is a disaster: the situation of the health services is very bad, and retirement age is also likely to be pushed back. »
« War is a threat everywhere, Mandla Phangwa (Azania) added: « The so-called ‘left’ South African government is engaged in imperialist intervention in Mozambique, which is driving tens of thousands of local populations to forced exile. Our campaign against war is receiving positive feedback. We are holding meetings to discuss our government’s involvement in the war, whether by delivering weapons to Israel or by participating in the situation in Mozambique. Our campaigns must not be limited to socialist activists but also include any group that wishes to participate. »
Ka Wai Chan (Hong Kong) stated with concern: « Military threats in China are increasing with Taiwan, nobody knows how to react; in Hong Kong we don’t know either. The Chinese government is becoming more and more autocratic and no one understands its. If there is a military conflict, given our economic situation, the working class will be very seriously affected, in China and Taiwan. »
This is why, according to Randy Miranda (Philippines) it is urgent, « to continue mobilising against war, as we did by forming the ‘Stop the War’ coalition. Here as everywhere else, war is taking an increasingly important place, inflation which already stood at 6.5 % last year has now reached 8 %. We are trying to form a coalition with other groups in Southeast Asia, and we have already established a link with two of them who have signed our petition, the group Social Innovation Advisory Limited in Hong Kong and Justice for Sisters in Malaysia. »
The Follow-up Committee then decided on the following measures:
1. To take the necessary dispositions for preparing new initiatives against war, at the international level, throughout the month of February.
2. To call for expanding the campaign in defence of Afghan women, in particular by making 8 March an international day of mobilisation, in forms as broad as possible.
3. To give the French POID the responsibility of coordinating IWC logistics.