Vocal in Demanding the Release of the Revolutionary Poet Varavara Rao and All Political Prisoners

Vocal in Demanding the Release of the Revolutionary Poet Varavara Rao and All Political Prisoners

While India is reeling with Covid-19, the country’s central and state governments have refused to release an old man from prison. Varavara Rao, a 81 year old revolutionary poet, is in jail on the Bhima Koregaon case. Meanwhile, some inmates of that jail have died due to Covid-19. Prominent personalities of the country and abroad have become vocal in demanding the release of this revolutionary poet. As revolutionary student and youth organisations, we demand the release of Varavara Rao and all political prisoners around the world.

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the victory of the Dalits in the war against the upper caste Peshwas at Bhima Koregaon, Maharashtra, Hindutva forces yet again attacked the people and on 28 September 2018 Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha were arrested from Delhi, Pune, Faridabad, Mumbai, and Hyderabad on multiple charges. Later Shoma Sen, Anand Teltumbde, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson and many other social workers, lawyers, poets and professors were arrested as well. They were charged under various unconstitutional laws like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), sedition and so on.

Also arrested was the 90 percent physically disabled Professor G N Saibaba, who is being held in the small ‘Anda Cell’ of the Nagpur Jail. The jail crucially does not have the infrastructure to keep someone in Saibaba’s condition. As a result, his physical condition is deteriorating day by day. The Indian state is also continuing to target the veteran Maoist theoretical leader Kobad Ghandy by conspiring to block his release from jail on new false charges despite him suffering from cancer.

On 28 May, poet Varavara Rao fell unconscious in jail. He was admitted to J J Hospital in Mumbai. Although his condition was just slightly stable, he was brought back to jail on 1 June. Varavara Rao’s family was not allowed to visit the hospital. They didn’t even get a chance to talk to the poet on the phone. In this situation, Varavara Rao’s wife applied for bail in the NIA court but that application was rejected. Although article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to life even if a citizen is imprisoned. On June 26, the NIA court again rejected the bail plea of Varavara Rao regarding illness. Varavara Rao has since contracted Covid-19 which in his current condition could prove to be fatal.

We have seen that in India different national and local parties make different promises during elections, but there is little difference between them in terms of anti-people policies and anti-people laws like UAPA, sedition etc. Almost all parties have been using these laws to suppress dissent. However, in spite of this repressive policy of the state, the protests and movements of workers, peasants, students and social workers in different parts of India have not stopped. And this is why the ruling class fears even the elderly Varavara Rao, or the physically challenged Professor Saibaba. That is why they have to be kept in jail even during the coronavirus crisis.

In contrast to the increasingly fascistic old Indian state, at least 100 leading intellectuals in the world, such as Noam Chomsky, Homi K Bhabha, Partha Chatterjee and Gerald Horne have written letters to the President and Chief Justice of India demanding the release of Varavara Rao. 375 prominent personalities of India including Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi, Shankha Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Kaushik Sen have written an open letter to the Central Government of India.

Meanwhile, recently 14 Indian MPs wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray requesting that the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao be transferred from Taloja Jail in to a hospital. Several inmates have already died of coronavirus in that jail. Officially, the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases in India is about half a million, more than 16,000 died. Almost every day new records of infections and deaths are being set.

The Indian government is putting at risk the lives of Varavara Rao and others, who have been detained in attempts to demobilise and demoralise the people. The Government of India will be held responsible for the death of Varavara Rao or if any of the other political prisoners are infected with the virus during their detention during the coronavirus crisis. We once again demand the Government of India to immediately release the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao and all other political prisoners.

When it comes to the issue of political prisoners in Manipur, there is a large number of people behind bars under draconian acts such as Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), National Security Act (NSA), and Sedition law. Anyone with a voice of dissent, raising his or her voice against the government, the state, people who are demanding their democratic right to self determination are put behind bars. To understand the gravity of the situation, we can cite some newspaper reports. A report published in 2015 in The Hindu, a reputed Indian newspaper, says “Manipur, which accounts to only 0.2 per cent of the country’s population, has registered nearly 65 per cent of cases under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, (UAPA). Out of the 975 cases of UAPA registered in the country in 2014, 630 are from the small north-eastern State of Manipur..” Another report in Times of India published this year indicates that the situation has slightly changed but the number of people charged under UAPA in Manipur still remains high. The report quoting Nation Crime Bureau Records tells us that in the year 2018, people charged under UAPA is 289 in Manipur, this number is higher than that of Kashmir for that year. Though Kashmir is known for state repression, Manipur has faced its own share.

In Manipur some of the Political Prisoners who are in prison, charged with the National Security Act (NSA) or under trial (not yet convicted):

  1. Moirangthem Ranapratap @ Paikhomba Meitei ,KCP, PWG (Marxist Centre). He is currently in Tihaar Central Jail, Delhi (still under trial)
  2. Khoirom Ranjit @ Rocky, Convenor, KCP, PWG (Marxist Centre). He is in Tihaar Central Jail, Delhi, right now. (still under trial)
  3. Sapamcha Kangleipal @ Chiranglen, Manipur Maoist. He is currently in Sajiwa Central Jail, Manipur.
  4. Moirangthem Inaocha @ Premananda, People’s Liberation Army. He is now incarcerated in Sajiwa Central Jail Manipur

In the last few years, hundreds of opposition leaders have gone missing in Bangladesh. Even under this Covid-19 crisis, the suppression of opposition views in Bangladesh has not been stopped. Political activists, including cartoonists, are being imprisoned for criticizing the government during the pandemic. Journalists are being thrown into jail for disclosing information about government irregularities and corruption. Journalist Kajal was abducted and later unjustly arrested and kept in jail.

The fascist Hasina-Awami government is strangling the masses of people with both the right steps not being taken to deal with Covid-19 and the continued repression of dissidents. In this case, the Hasina government is not at all different from the reactionary governments of other countries like the Modi government of India.

In Nepal, the repression of truly revolutionary forces has continued with comrade Uma Bhujel “Shilu” being re-arrested for the tenth time following a court release order. Uma Bhujel “Shilu” is a Central Committee member of the Biplab led Communist Party of Nepal.

The repression of dissident voices has also been seen among the imperialist nations. In Canada, the state’s genocidal policy against the Indigenous nations has intensified as resistance to capitalism and settler-colonialism has increased internally. Most recently this has been seen with the response and aftermath to the RCMP invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia. The state has been quick to attack and arrest those defending their lands or those active in the blockades called in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation in order to deal a blow to the Canadian state’s economy.

DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF REVOLUTIONARY POET VARAVARA RAO!

DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

Signatories:

This is the list of participating groups:

  1. Revolutionary Student-Youth Movement/Bangladesh
  2. Revolutionary Student Movement/Canada
  3. Revolutionary Student Front/West Bengal (India)
  4. Socialist Students’ Union of Manipur
  5. All-Nepal National Independent Student Union (Revolutionary)
  6. All-Nepal National Independent Student Union (Revolutionary)
  7. Young Revolutionaries/France
  8. Jeunesse Debout/Canada
RED SPRING IS COMING: LET’S SHUT THE SCHOOLS DOWN ON MARCH 20TH!

RED SPRING IS COMING: LET’S SHUT THE SCHOOLS DOWN ON MARCH 20TH!

As we sit in the depths of winter, the many hardships that working class students are faced with seem to have no end in sight, and only get worse as time goes by. But as spring comes to replace this difficult season, so too will the masses rise in defiance to bring about change! It’s time to turn the spring red with the fury of students! For too long we have been forced into a crushing debt, only to be pushed into a world of precarious jobs and unemployment after graduation. For too long we have been denied control over our own education and future. Nevertheless, there is a way to build a better tomorrow: we can organize, resist and fight for a better world! Governments and school administrations can no longer be allowed to keep robbing us through unbearable fees and loans with no repercussions.  We will take control and ownership over our own education, instead of being treated both as clients that need to pay or get out, and obedient subordinates to an education system created without our involvement. We will support national self-determination struggles of all Indigenous people across this part of Turtle Island against the long history of colonial oppression, which must end now. We can and will take action to make this clear. We won’t let the capitalists and their government lapdogs sabotage our future for profit anymore. We will not stop until we win!

The Revolutionary Student Movement has long been at the forefront of struggles against the evils of capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, racism, imperialist wars, destruction of the environment and more. We are once again staging a coordinated action across the country. In the spring of 2015 we acted in solidarity with the striking Quebec students and mobilized across the country for a Red Spring, to build a wider, more combative student movement. This year, we are launching a series of coordinated actions across the country to grow our resistance further!

We call on all of our comrades, supporters, and anyone who finds this call to action to resonate with them to join us in organizing for a shutdown of every school across Canada this March 20th! At noon local time – walk out of your class and join the actions on your campus! Let us unite into a force to be reckoned with! Let us make this spring a Red Spring of combative resistance, solidarity and change!

We organize with broad, yet clear, political demands. We do not need to do the work of the government and school administrations for them in figuring out how exactly to meet these. Other student groups have been producing detailed plans and fruitlessly lobbying hundreds of politicians for decades, and we are not interested in going down this dead-end path. We are angry and we will not stop until we win.

 

Our 5 core demands are:

  1. Education in the service of the people, not profit!

Education must serve the interests of the people, not corporations and profit. Everyone needs to have access to post-secondary education. Research has to be done for the benefit of all, not the benefit of capitalists and their wars. A democratic and scientific education must replace the imperialist, settler-colonial and patriarchal curriculum. Education needs to prepare us to struggle for justice and liberation, not simply prepare us to be exploited on the job.

  1. Guaranteed paid internships for all students

Interns are workers and must be paid equally for the same work as other workers in their field. Over 300,000 interns across the country do not get proper pay. The times when employers could exploit intern workers without pay must end now!

  1. Abolition of tuition fees at all levels of education! Cancellation of all outstanding student debt!

Banks and the government keep using students as cash-cows while tuition fees and debt become unbearable for most of us. We will not be held hostage to the scam of having to give an arm and a leg for a basic necessity such as education!

  1. Barrier-free access to post-secondary education for all Indigenous people and an anti-colonial aspect to all programs!

Canada, as a settler-colonial state, is built on stolen land and the genocide of Indigenous nations. All Indigenous people must have barrier-free access to post-secondary education. We support the creation of independent faculties, colleges and universities controlled by the Indigenous people. The education system needs to foster the cultures and languages of Indigenous people within it and include mandatory anti-colonial components in all programs.

  1. Democratic control of post-secondary institutions!

Universities and colleges should be run by the people they serve, not by unelected boards of governors and administrators filled with representatives of the big banks and large corporations. We demand the abolition of boards of governors. Instead, schools must be run by committees elected at a general assembly composed of students, faculty, support staff, and members of the community.

 

While these demands are more radical than the demands of any other progressive student group, we do not see them as end-goals in and of themselves. We believe that we need to grow the power of the masses to change the root causes of the hardships most people around us suffer from today. To us, these root causes are: capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. They shape the main aspects of the world around us. Protests and walk-outs to disrupt the usual order of things at schools is just the beginning. We are organizing towards a country-wide student strike in the coming years, because strikes are one of the most powerful tools we have in fighting for our interests. But even that is not the end goal our organizing. We don’t stop when the demands we are fighting for are met. We will continue to organize until the root-causes of most of our problems and hardships will be eliminated: when we make Revolution, united with all the revolutionary forces across society, and achieve a genuine socialist society. Only then can all of us be truly free.

This may sound like a long way from where we are all today, so where should we start? It all starts from students organizing to fight back against the rotten capitalist education system as it currently stands. Come out to organizing meetings on your campus, reach out to us if you want to organize them, spread the word – we need to rise up together, so we can win together!

No fees, no debt, no barriers to education!

Dare to struggle – dare to win!

In Struggle,
Coordinating Committee of the MER-RSM

 

For more information about getting involved, email: info@mer-rsm.ca

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryStudentMovement/

What the MER-RSM Has Done in 2017

What the MER-RSM Has Done in 2017

This year has been full of major events for the MER-RSM and for the revolutionary movement in Canada. We have held our 6th Pan-Canadian Congress in February, where delegates from 14 sections across the country came together to decide on the course of our organization and share organizing experience. The Congress has elected an almost entirely new Pan-Canadian Coordinating Committee to guide the work of our organization and serves as a good indication of the growth and qualitative improvement that we are experiencing.

As the Canadian state was celebrating 150 years since its founding, many anti-colonial movements and organizers have shown their opposition to this blatant celebration of settler colonialism, capitalism and imperialism. The MER-RSM has joined the FuckThe150th campaign initiated by the Revolutionary Communist Party to protest these celebrations on the ground and to counter the messages spread by the Canadian state on social media.

More MER-RSM sections than ever before have joined in the International Workers’ Day (or May Day) events across the country by taking part and organizing marches, public talks and social events. We have also taken part in celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Great October Revolution, a very important historic event to commemorate and learn from.

This year has also been marked by the rise of the extreme right organizations, which have been trying to take to the streets in a series of coordinated, country-wide efforts. Most of these attempts have been shut down or constrained to tiny perimeter by anti-racist and anti-fascist organizers that have been coming out to oppose them. Members of the MER-RSM have joined the efforts to stop the extreme right from taking root on campuses and anywhere they try to rear their ugly head.

It has never been a secret that the state and its running dogs – the police, try to suppress any radical organizing that challenges it and aims to change the society. As the quality of work of revolutionary organizations across the country has been on the rise, police repression followed. This has been particularly evident in Sudbury, Quebec City, and Ottawa. Despite that, we are committed to continuing to build solidarity against state repression and against the rising threat of fascism.

Many new comrades have joined our organization this year, with several new sections being created: Brandon (Manitoba), Guelph (Ontario), Waterloo (Ontario), Windsor (Ontario). Other sections have seen growth of membership and the scope of work. Regrettably, we have seen the departure of the Montreal section of the MER-RSM due to serious political disagreements. However, we have restarted our organizing in Montreal, namely at Concordia university, and we expect to expand our organizing there in the coming year.

We have big plans in the coming year! We are going to distribute our first-ever publication, Classmates, in January. Comrades in Ottawa, Hamilton, Peterborough, Saskatoon, Toronto and Winnipeg are going to be engaged in campaigns to create or improve General Assemblies on their campuses, which will become a platform where political struggles get brought out in the open and a tool to exert direct democratic control over student unions. As the experience of campuses with functional General Assemblies demonstrates, it is one of the best tools for advancing radical politics; building the culture of resistance to capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy and other reactionary systems of oppression; and challenging the bourgeois notion of representative democracy, where the small minority detached from the needs of the majority holds most of the decision-making power. Lastly, we will hold Regional Conferences where comrades will come together to meet each other, share organizing experience, and come up with ideas and proposals for the time between then and the 2019 Pan-Canadian Congress.

We are the largest and the most active anti-capitalist student movement in Canada. We remain committed to organizing in struggle against capitalism, colonialism, racism, patriarchy, ableism and other forms of oppression both on and off campuses.

Now is a good time to join our movement!

Get in touch with us: info@mer-rsm.ca

https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryStudentMovement/

 

Dare to struggle, dare to win!

Coordinating Committee of the MER-RSM