Resolution On The International Situation

  1. The global economic crisis, and the remedies (bail-outs for corporates and austerity measures for the commoners) applied to it by neoliberal regimes, have fostered unemployment, deteriorating and precarious working and living conditions, and ever-sharpening inequality for the past decade. A recent study of global inequality shows that in the US and in India income concentration in the past decade has reached 1920s levels.
  2. 2017-18 marks the centenary year of the Russian Revolution, and 150 years of Karl Marx’s Capital. While the erstwhile components of the Soviet Union are still grappling with the setback that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union, the renewed appeal of the idea of socialism, in the face of mounting inequality and massive welfare cuts can be seen in many parts of the world including even the US and Britain.
  3. Unsurprisingly, though, the climate of deep insecurity and deprivation has also been fertile ground for the rise of fascist and authoritarian forces all over the world, that have blamed inequality and insecurity, not on neoliberal policies but on minorities and immigrants. These forces, by stoking xenophobia and Islamophobia disguised as ‘nationalism’ on the one hand and promising economic and political regeneration and national “greatness” on the other, have increased their strength and even achieved dramatic electoral success.
  4. Where these forces have achieved power, their regimes have been marked by organised racial/communal violence by fascist groups; attacks on dissent, civil liberties, and freedom of speech; intensified anti-feminist politics and attacks on women’s rights; the use of fake news to whip up hatred and prejudice; as well as personality cults and centralisation of power in the figure of a single powerful leader. Modi in India and Trump in the US are among the most successful recent instances of such politics. Other instances in which fascist politics has gained ground include Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) in France, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany, the Freedom Party with neo-Nazi links in Austria, and the successful Brexit vote in the United Kingdom.
  5. Erdogan in Turkey and Putin in Russia are also instances of leaders whose authoritarian regimes have intensified their grip on their respective countries in recent years. While these continue to be electoral democracies in form, in content they have evolved into extremely undemocratic regimes: suppressing dissent, controlling media, and rewriting constitutions of their countries to allow for these leaders to rule virtually indefinitely. Authoritarianism is disguised as patriotism. Putin’s Government protects the interests and commands the loyalty of Russia’s oligarch capitalists, of whom Putin himself is one.
  6. Trump achieved his victory by consolidating a ‘whitelash’ – white supremacist assertion amongst the prosperous elite – while channeling the anger and insecurity felt by America’s unemployed white working class in a racist and xenophobic direction. Trump, himself a billionaire businessman, has embraced economic policies that do not challenge the neoliberal regime an inch. While attacking workers’ rights and welfare viciously, he claims to address unemployment by blocking immigration.
  7. Trump’s victory has emboldened fascist white supremacist forces, resulting in a spike in hate crimes against immigrants and Black people. Anti-fascist demonstrations have been met with organised violence by fascist groups.
  8. The travel ban imposed by Trump on seven Muslim-majority countries, and his insistence on a wall with Mexico funded at Mexican expense are instances of the blatantly Islamophobic and racist policy framework favoured by Trump.
  9. During his election campaign, Trump had expressed his opposition to US involvement in wars in West Asia and promised to adopt an ‘America First’ approach rather than act as a global policeman. However, it is clear that instead, Trump is as invested in the imperialist agenda of war-mongering and regime change as his predecessors.
  10. Trump is indulging in sabre-rattling against North Korea and Iran, even indulging in dangerous nuclear muscle-flexing on the volatile platform of twitter. The American administration, using racist propaganda to demonise North Korea, is justifying its economic war on and military encirclement of North Korea. It is encouraging that North Korea and South Korea have taken steps to undermine US meddling by initiating dialogue with each other.
  11. Trump has been threatening to adopt a protectionist approach towards China, but his approach here is tempered by the fear that China might retaliate by closing its market to US investment, badly affecting US corporations that have a considerable footprint in China. In the name of his ‘America First’ policy, Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a twelve-nation trade deal which was supposed to be a US-led counterweight to China. China has capitalized on this withdrawal. On a geopolitical level the Trump administration is intensifying the ‘China containment’ policy pursued by previous US regimes. Towards this policy the Trump administration has taken to referring to the region as ‘Indo-Pacific’ instead of ‘Asia-Pacific.’ Trump has recently announced plans to impose tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, aiming them mainly at China as penalties for exporting cheap metals. These tariffs are also bound to affect India. The double standards of the US are apparent where it imposes punitive tariffs on imports to protect its own industries while using the WTO and other bodies to prevent other countries like India from doing likewise.
  12. In an attempt to recruit India as part of its strategic policy of containing China, Trump has made public statements proposing to end aid to Pakistan, endorsing the Indian view on Pakistan harbouring terrorists and on China’s One Belt One Road, rechristening the Asia Pacific region as Indo-Pacific, declaring India to be a key player in Afghanistan, and sending his daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad. But this strategic embrace of India – which has merely cosmetic benefits for India – is accompanied by protectionist policies such as curbing of H-1B visa extensions that threaten to result in deportation of thousands of skilled Indian workers from the US. Even as the US-based Hindutva lobby hails Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, it has been silent on the intensified racist and xenophobic attacks which have targeted Indians as well.
  13. The Trump Presidency is also notable for its blatant endorsement of Israeli occupation – evidenced in its move to claim Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. In spite of the Trump administration’s attempts to bully and threaten other nations to support them on Jerusalem, the US was left overwhelmingly isolated in the UN Security Council which voted decisively against the move.
  14. Brexit (the proposal for Britain to exit from the European Union) won a surprise victory in the UK referendum thanks to a sustained xenophobic campaign by right wing parties like the UKIP and the faction of the Conservative Party supporting ‘Leave’. This campaign turned the referendum on Brexit into a referendum on immigrants and refugees, using widespread anger and anxiety about austerity measures to fuel its racist agenda. The Brexit victory in the UK was followed by a marked uptick in racial, xenophobic, and Islamophobic violence.
  15. If the Brexit referendum exposed the deep-seated racism in the UK polity, subsequent developments in the UK also showed the simultaneous potential for consistent left-wing politics offering a positive, inspiring alternative to austerity and neoliberalism. In the snap UK polls called by Prime Minister Theresa May in June 2017, May’s Conservative Party lost its majority and it was Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party that increased its seats from 30 to 262 and its vote share by 10%. Corbyn, who in September 2016 had defeated Blairite sections inside his own party to emerge as the leader of the Labour Party, gained active support among young voters, with a campaign slogan of ‘For The Many, Not The Few.’ Corbyn’s victory came in spite of a sustained campaign in the media to deride and demonise his agenda for being unviable and dangerously Left-wing.
  16. In the US as in the UK, while the right-wing and fascist forces are ascendant, it is worth recalling how, in the Democratic Party’s primaries to elect its Presidential candidate, the self-proclaimed ‘democratic socialist’ Bernie Sanders with a distinctly Left-leaning agenda commanded great enthusiasm and activism among the young. The victory of Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant to the Seattle City Council twice in succession, on an agenda of housing rights and minimum wages for the working class, is a small but encouraging indication of the potential for Left politics.
  17. In the US, Trump’s ascendance has galvanised progressive forces into anti-fascist unity and resistance. The Black Lives Matter movement, that began during Obama’s second term, taking on the killings of Black men and assaults on Black people by police, has emerged as a mainstay of the resistance. Feminists, Latino workers, Black people have joined hands in massive mobilisations right from the first day of Trump’s Presidency. The ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ movements targeting sexual harassment has also emerged as a watershed for the feminist movement in the USA, and it has also had international resonances.
  18. In the USA, this moment has also seen the feminist movement acquire an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist emphasis, with the International Women’s Strike (IWS) on 8 March (International Women’s Day) in 2017 and 2018. The IWS received a massive response in the USA, as well as in 50 other countries.
  19. In Greece, January 2015 saw the Left-wing coalition Syriza win the elections and form Government (in coalition with the right-wing ANEL), riding on a massive wave of anti-austerity protests. In June 2015, the Syriza Government headed by Alex Tsipiras held a historic referendum on whether Greece must accept the bailout conditions imposed by the European Commission, IMF and European Central Bank in the wake of the Greek debt crisis. The Greek people overwhelmingly voted ‘No’ in the referendum. The capitulation of the Syriza leadership a month later to the bailout conditions in defiance of the referendum mandate led to the resignation of the Tsipiras Government and fresh elections. In the September 2015 elections, the Syriza-ANEL coalition was reelected, but has been facing massive popular protests ever since. These popular movements have trade unions and Left forces at their core. However Greece has also witnessed the rise of fascist forces
  20. Cuba, in the aftermath of the passing away of Fidel Castro, continues to assert its independence from and defiance of US imperialism. The Obama administration had taken steps towards lifting the economic embargo on Cuba, but the Trump administration is reversing those steps. In the wake of Castro’s death, Trump’s tweets hinted at a US-sponsored regime change: terming Castro a dictator whose legacy was one of “unimaginable suffering, poverty, and denial of fundamental rights”, he declared that the US would do all in its power to help Cubans “begin their journey towards prosperity and liberty.” The Cuban people replied to these claims with massive participation in Castro’s funeral procession, reasserting their support for and hopes from the Cuban revolution.
  21. In Venezuela also, the US has been pushing hard for regime change, backing a right-wing Opposition with the one-point agenda of ousting Chavez’s successor President Maduro. The Trump Administration has imposed fresh economic sanctions on Venezuela to “suffocate” the Venezuelan economy and threatened military intervention. In 2015, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) suffered a defeat in the National Assembly elections, winning only 55 out of 167 seats. While there was only a 4.22% increase in the vote percentage of the main Opposition force – the Democratic Unity Coalition (MUD), the relative passivity of the PSUV base, thanks in part to the timid and conciliatory approach of the Government towards the bourgeoisie, contributed to the PSUV defeat.
  22. But the PSUV and the Maduro Government, taking a lesson from the defeat, corrected course. In spite of sustained Opposition-sponsored street violence, there was massive popular participation in the elections to the National Constituent Assembly, a body mandated by the Venezuelan Constitution and enjoying elected representation from trade unions, local communal councils, poor farmers, indigenous groups, students, and pensioners. The Opposition refused to participate in the Constituent Assembly elections but the popular enthusiasm for the Constituent Assembly polls gave its agenda a setback. Subsequently, the PSUV won the elections to the post of governors, held in October 2017, by a wide margin, and has since swept the mayoral polls held in December 2017. It is apparent that in spite of many challenges and contradictions, and in spite of aggression and intimidation from US imperialism, the Bolivarian revolution is still fighting and continues to enjoy considerable popular support.
  23. In Brazil, the impact of the global economic crisis, felt in that country since 2011, made the Workers Party’s social democratic model of development, which benefited the rich while also allowing the poor to improve their lives, unviable. The Workers Party was ousted from power and its leader Dilma Roussef removed as President through a controversial impeachment proceeding based on accusations that Roussef had misused funds from public banks to cover up deficiencies in the budget. The hypocritical and farcical nature of the impeachment lay in the fact that many of the members of Brazil’s Senate who voted to impeach her, as well as other leaders of the main Opposition party, are, along with several leaders of the Workers Party, also tainted in a massive scam related to bribery, political funding and crony capitalism. Subsequently, the former President and main leader of the Workers Party, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison, on corruption charges that are flimsy and trumped-up. Lula’s conviction probably debars him from contesting the 2018 Presidential election. His conviction has been accompanied by moves by the Government and Senate to get rid of labour laws protecting workers. The impact of Lula’s imprisonment on the Workers Party’s political prospects remains to be seen.
  24. US imperialism continues to play havoc in Latin America. In Honduras, widespread protests follow after the US-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández was declared re-elected despite strong evidence that the elections were rigged. Hernández enjoys the backing of the US, and in his previous term built up US-trained security forces on the pretext of cracking down on the drug trade and crime. He is now using those security forces to unleash brutal repression on the thousands of people protesting the stolen election. Scores of protesters have been killed, and many arrested from their homes in the night and disappeared.
  25. Evo Morales of the Movement For Socialism (MAS) became President of Bolivia in 2006; by 2016, Bolivia reduced extreme poverty by half, from 38.2 percent to 16.2 percent. The Bolivian Government also promoted the rights of indigenous people and environmental justice. With nationalisation of the oil and gas sector, Bolivia reaped the benefits of the surge in global prices of fossil fuel exports between 2010-2014. With the fall in global prices now, Bolivia is faced with new challenges. In 2016, Morales and the MAS lost a referendum that sought to amend the constitution to allow Morales to contest for a fourth term as President. But the Plurinational Constitutional Court, Bolivia’s highest court, struck down the legal and constitutional limit on Presidential re-election.
  26. In Latin America, conservative or right-wing forces have won elections in Argentine, Brazil, Paraguay, and Chile. But in spite of this right-wing surge, initiatives of regional cooperation and solidarity spearheaded by Cuba and Venezuela, like the Bolivarian Alternative for Our Americas (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), continue to play a role. Another significant act of regional anti-imperialist solidarity is the Truth Commission created jointly by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia into ‘Operation Condor’ – a covert US-sponsored programme that backed brutal authoritarian regimes in six Latin American countries, resulting in assassination of political leaders and disappearance of 60,000 people.
  27. The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Daesh is a fallout of the US invasion of Iraq and the ‘de-Ba’athification’ process followed by the US after its occupation of Iraq. In the wake of resentment of the Sunni population at their marginalisation in occupied Iraq, former leaders of the Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist party joined the ISIS/Daesh. Evidence has now emerged that the US, Saudi Arabia have funded Daesh while Israel is among those countries which have armed it. At the time of the Arab Spring, Daesh was yet to play a very influential role in the region; its warnings against deposing dictators like Egypt’s President Mubarak had few takers. The repression unleashed on the Arab Spring, and the resulting climate of despair and frustration, proved fertile ground for the ISIS.
  28. The uprising in Syria against the Bashar-al-Assad regime began as part of the Arab Spring. Assad unleashed brutal repression on the uprising, resulting in a civil war and humanitarian crisis, forcing lakhs of refugees to flee Syria. The Assad regime also unleashed brutal bombing and chemical attacks on civilian population in the name of freeing cities from ‘terrorists.’ While Russian military backed the Assad regime against the opposition, the US backed some of the opposition forces including al-Qaeda and al-Nusra its former affiliate and resorted to bombing Syria and seemed hell-bent on forcing a regime change. Lately, however, the US and Russia have matched their stances towards Syria and the Assad regime. While we oppose imperialist wars and US and Russian meddling in the region, what is needed is a UN-monitored process for a political solution to the civil war in Syria.
  29. The ISIS/Daesh represents an extremely reactionary ideology and, along with a series of international terrorist strikes, has unleashed extreme repression on civilians – especially minorities and women in areas under its control. This was largely due to the resistance of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party the PKK, which has waged a decades long struggle for a Kurdish homeland within Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and its militia the YPG. Over the last two years the Kurds have received help from the US in their battles against Daesh and have become essentially US allies in the region. However since January this year Turkey which regards the PKK and the YPG as terrorist forces have been ruthlessly bombarding Afrin, the town in Syria which is a YPG stronghold, directly targetting civilian centres and killing hundreds of defenceless men women and children. Currently Turkey is planning a ground invasion in northern Syria which will further intensify its genocidal attacks on the Kurds. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who is now a defacto dictator has accused the US, a NATO ally, of forming a “terrorist” force on his country’s border that would not be tolerated and would be dealt with “before it is even born”.
  30. In West Asia another notable phenomenon is the tacit cooperation between imperialist allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, united in their hostility Iran. The bombing of Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition including US and UK forces in the name of curbing the influence of the Shia Houthis on Northern Yemen has resulted in a massacre of civilians and a massive humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Israel’s support for the offensive in Iran is apparent. The ‘resignation’ of the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri while in the Saudi capital Riyadh was widely perceived to be under duress and force, even as Saudi Arabia and Israel took the ‘resignation’ as an opportunity to push for an end to Hezbollah’s participation in the Lebanon Government and its political and military role in the region. Hariri, a Saudi ally, has since put his ‘resignation’ on hold.
  31. Iran is witnessing massive anti-Government street protests by ordinary Iranians. The protests are mainly on the issues of unemployment, poverty and deprivation that the reformist Government headed by President Hassan Rouhani has failed to address. Attempts by the US and Israel to signal approval for these protests and use the protests to further their own agenda of regime change in Iran are being rebuffed by Iran’s protesters. The protests are aimed at the neoliberal economic policies of the Rouhani Government – austerity measures, privatisation of education, cutbacks in subsidies and soaring unemployment. Nor is it lost on protesters that the austerity measures were inspired in part by the sanctions imposed on Iran by imperialist governments. Iran is also witnessing massive protests by women challenging and rejecting the compulsory imposition of hijab by the Iranian State since 1983.
  32. Israel’s occupation and war against the Palestinian people has continued to escalate, with the 2014 siege of Gaza taking a horrendous toll of Palestinian lives; Gaza is still blockaded by Israel with no medical supplies and continuous shortages of food and essential necessities. Most recently the case of Ahed Tamimi, a 16- year-old Palestinian girl arrested and imprisoned for slapping an Israeli soldier highlighted to the world both the brutality of a state which every year detains, interrogates and tortures hundreds of Palestinian children – and the continuing resistance of the Palestinians. The combination of Ahed’s own courage and determination, widespread international solidarity and condemnation of Israel’s actions, and mass mobilisation by Palestinian youth succeeded at least partially and forced the Israeli state to drop the most serious charges against Ahed which carried lengthy prison sentences of up to three years. Despite Israel’s ceaseless attempts to discredit its critics by falsely conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is growing in strength internationally and there is now very widespread recognition that Israel, like pre-1994 South Africa, is an apartheid state which must be strenuously opposed by all anti-imperialist and anti-racist forces. Considering India’s growing strategic ties with Israel, it is important for us in India to strengthen the BDS movement.
  33. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe resigned in November 2017 after 37 years in power amidst an impeachment hearing against him and a military take over. The new President Emmerson Mnangagwa was the former vice-president and is associated with some of worst atrocities committed against opponents during by the ruling Zanu-PF party. He has enthusiastically embraced neoliberal economic policies. Mugabe’s indigenisation law on FDI which ensured that foreign business must ensure 51% Black ownership has been scrapped for all industries except Diamond and Platinum mining.
  34. In South Africa, Jacob Zuma who had led the African National Congress Government resigned after allegations of corruption and crony capitalism. Zuma is accused of allowing the Gupta brothers (who are of Indian origin and hail from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and control a vast proportion of businesses in South Africa) to virtually capture the South African State. Cyril Ramaphosa, who was recently elected President of the ruling African National Congress with the support of the South African Communist Party SACP, has also replaced Zuma as the new President of South Africa. Ramaphosa was a right-hand man of Zuma and is one of South Africa’s richest individuals. He is a shareholder and director of the mining company Lonmin. When striking mine-workers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine were massacred by South African security forces in 2012, Ramaphosa notoriously called for even more repression.
  35. All indications are that even under Cyril Ramaphosa, the issues of crony capitalism, repression and racism will continue to beset the South African Government. However, in another important development the South African parliament backed a motion by the radical left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party to change the constitution in order to hasten the transfer of land from white to black owners. The ruling African National Congress had long promised reforms to redress racial disparities in land ownership but even two decades after the end of apartheid, whites still own most of South Africa’s land following centuries of brutal colonial dispossession. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to take these reforms forwards while stressing that food production and security must be preserved in the process.
  36. Fifty-three years ago, in 1965-66, Indonesia witnessed the massacre of more than 10 lakh people in a brutal purge of communists and communist sympathisers by the Suharto regime. Indonesia’s communist party, then the third largest in the world, was destroyed and crushed. Recently declassified files of the US embassy in Jakarta prove that the US Government and CIA not only had detailed knowledge of the massacre while it was ongoing but approved of it. Jokowi Widodo was elected President in 2014, promising measures to address human rights violations and corruption. During his tenure till now, hopes that he would end the policy of blacklisting of descendants of communist party members in jobs and initiate a Truth and Reconciliation process on the massacre have been belied. Meanwhile, in the run-up to the Presidential elections due in 2019, right-wing forces are gaining ground, stoking the anti-communist bogey once again, and spreading fake news and hate against people of Chinese origin.
  37. In our 9th Congress we had commented on China’s drift away from “any meaningful progress towards socialism,” and noted “the conspicuous absence of the essential emancipa tory vision of a revolutionary social transformation – one that reduces social disparities and elevates the basic masses from a position of mere recipients of benefits from a state power standing above them, to one of real rulers of the land.” This situation continues without any change for the better; in fact disturbing reports from China suggest that living and working conditions of the people have further deteriorated, and suppression of their struggles has intensified. The 19th Congress of the CPC has not made any attempt at course-correction with regard to its handling of key issues such as working class and feminist protests, and nationality movements in the Tibet and Xinjiang regions. China’s treatment of its Muslim minority population is also a cause for concern. The growing extension of the surveillance state and the introduction of the ‘social credit’ system to rate the ‘trustworthiness’ of citizens clearly have dangerous implications for the rights and welfare of the people.
  38. China has made a visible break with its former policy of maintaining a low profile in terms of intervention in international affairs, increasing its foreign policy footprint in various parts of the world including a military base away from home. This assertiveness has been accompanied by the abolition of term limits on the presidency, opening up the possibility for the current President Xi Jingping to hold his position for an unlimited period. While this increased assertiveness augurs well as a potentially countervailing force against US hegemony towards a more multipolar world, we must carefully observe and assess the implications of China’s increased foreign policy engagement in specific cases.
  39. BRICS never lived up to its potential to promote multipolarity either against unilateral political domination by the US or the economic stranglehold of IMF-World Bank-WTO. Even within BRICS there is very little development of economic cooperation among the member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). India is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), but its role has remained largely low-key and it has made no effort to use this to promote better ties with China or other Asian countries. By contrast India has stepped up its transactions and relationship with Japan and ASEAN countries (with a massive Bullet Train deal to the benefit of Japan, and the striking symbolism of inviting all ASEAN heads of state as guests on India’s Republic Day celebrations in 2018).
  40. In the South Asian neighbourhood, the Modi Government’s big-brotherly attitude has left India increasingly isolated. Modi frittered away the warmth extended to India by Nepal by trying to leverage Indian relief efforts in the tragic Nepal earthquake too boost his political capital and personal image. The RSS tried to meddle in Nepal’s internal process of drafting a Constitution by pushing for Nepal to declare itself a Hindu rather than a secular nation, in keeping with RSS’ political vision. Modi’s Government then proceeded to snub Nepal on the historic occasion of its Republican Constitution, instead chastising Nepal for the manner in which its new Constitution chose to frame the Madhes issue. And then the Modi Government was complicit in an economic blockade of Nepal to try and pressurise it into bowing to Indian pressure on the Madhesi question.
  41. The recent elections in Nepal saw a welcome alliance of the country’s two main Left parties, the CPN-UML and CPN Maoist, secure a decisive victory. The subsequent announcement of merger of the two Left parties is also a welcome development. This bodes well for Nepal’s journey towards consolidating its republican democracy.
  42. On China, the Modi Government’s posture of belligerence, for instance on the issues of Doklam border dispute, accompanied by RSS propaganda against China, is belied however by hard economic realities. Large sections of the Indian economy are dependent on Chinese products; Indian start-ups like PayTM and Flipkart rely on Chinese capital; cell-phones made in China and assembled in India are the backbone of the telecom industry in India. The Indian Government was largely isolated in the sub-continent in its opposition to China’s One Belt One Road. With China playing a more vocal and active international role, especially in the subcontinent, India’s attempts to position itself as the favoured ally of the US in the subcontinent are not gaining much traction.
  43. In an extraordinary display of arrogance, the Government of India, in the wake of a Free Trade Agreement between China and Maldives, issued a statement asking Maldives to stick to its “India First” policy. Instead, the Maldives Government suspended three local councillors for holding an unauthorised meeting with the Indian Ambassador, making it clear that India could not take any liberties with the Maldives.
  44. Recent developments in the Maldives are disturbing. The country’s Supreme Court ordered the release of all political prisoners. The government headed by Abdulla Yameen refused to comply with this order and instead announced a state of Emergency. The Supreme Court has been suspended, the chief justice arrested, and opposition leaders also arrested. A former President and Opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has called for diplomatic and military intervention by India. Indian military intervention would however be contrary to international law. India must confine itself to diplomatic means to urge for the restoration of democracy in the Maldives.
  45. In Myanmar, the long-standing racial discrimination, denial of citizenship, and violence against the Rohingya minority has peaked, reaching genocidal proportions. Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to acknowledge the genocide. Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar have been forced to take refuge in Bangladesh where their existence is extremely precarious. A small proportion of Rohingyas who have fled to India are in a very insecure position, with the Modi Government threatening to deport them in violation of international human rights commitments, and the communal organisations threatening violence against the refugees. India has as yet refused to sign the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol: India must do so at the earliest and treat all refugees, including Rohingya refugees, in keeping with international protocol and norms. There are also underlying geopolitical and economic factors unperpinning the eviction of Rohingyas from the Rakhine region: including oil exploration projects, oil pipelines and other infrastructure projects like roads and ports, in which Chinese and Indian corporations have interests. We demand that the Indian Government ensure safety, dignity and refugee status for Rohingya refugees in India, and also pursue the question of justice, full citizenship and safe repatriation of the Rohingya people with the Myanmar Government and on international platforms like the United Nations.
  46. In Bangladesh, democracy is in a crisis, with the ruling party mounting a neoliberal offensive, subverting democratic institutions, muzzling opposition parties and curtailing democratic rights in the name of ‘fighting corruption’. In this vitiated climate, fundamentalist forces are also gaining ground and waging war on secular, progressive, and rationalist voices. As Bangladesh approaches General Elections in 2018, an anti-corruption court has convicted Khaleda Zia, the former prime minister, who is president of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), to five years imprisonment for corruption. There is a strong apprehension that the forthcoming elections, like the last elections, will also be a travesty of democracy.
  47. We stand in solidarity with the people of Bangladesh in their resistance to various environmentally destructive Indian projects including the Rampal power plant project and related Reliance and Adani power and energy MOUs in the Sunderbans area. We also stand by the people of the Bangladesh and the left and democratic forces fighting against fundamentalism and neoliberalism. Potential conflict and competition is emerging amongst China, Bangladesh, and India over the waters of the river Brahmaputra. Competitive hydro-electric dam projects by China and India on the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra river are threatening the biodiversity of the region and the survival of the local people. Dialogue and multilateral cooperation between the concerned countries, based on ecologically sensitive policies must be the basis to resolve conflict over sharing of the riverine resources. Detection and deportation of alleged illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to India remains another sensitive issue which must be resolved through bilateral negotiations, and any unilateral Indian action can only vitiate Indo-Bangla ties and precipitate a humanitarian crisis.
  48. In Pakistan too, General Elections are due in 2018. Here, corruption allegations in the Panama Papers case forced Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. As in Bangladesh, there are strong apprehensions in Pakistan too that corruption, instead of being addressed as a systemic issue, is being used to settle political scores and regiment democracy. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have provided a potent excuse for mob lynchings and murders of religious minorities as well as secular and rational voices. The video-taped lynching of a University student activist Mashal Khan by fellow students who accused him of blasphemy was one of the worst recent incidents. Notably, Pakistan is witnessing huge demonstrations of support for blasphemy laws, emboldening fundamentalists who pass death sentences against activists and commentators who challenge these laws. Pakistan has also unleashed severe repression on the nationality movement in Balochistan. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan have also witnessed resistance by the Pashtuns against repression, disappearances, and human rights violations. The killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a model of Pashtun origin, by police in a fake encounter in Karachi sparked of a huge protest rally by Pashtuns, called the Pashtun Long March. Ten Left and progressive parties and organizations in Pakistan have begun a process of forming an alliance, which is a positive development. Pakistan’s ruling class has shown little will to tackle the question of cross-border terrorism. This, along with the Indian Government’s policy of war-mongering, threatens peace in the sub-continent.
  49. Kashmir remains the biggest long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan. Rather than making any serious efforts towards resolving the dispute, both Governments have only been busy perpetuating and aggravating it. In fact, India has insisted on denying the dispute and is, in an increasingly blatant manner, pushing for a military resolution of the political question of Kashmir. The Kashmir dispute can achieve a permanent and peaceful resolution only through dialogue between representatives of the various sections of Kashmiri peoples as well as the Governments of India and Pakistan. Such a resolution must be in keeping with the aspirations of the Kashmiris to determine their own destiny.
  50. In Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, who had been a Minister in the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government, contested the 2015 elections as the candidate of an opposition coalition, on a plank that attacked Rajapksa for corruption and nepotism. Sirisena, winning votes from the Tamil and Muslim minorities, was elected President. While Sirisena has promised to investigate the war crimes committed against the Tamils and his Government is drafting a new Constitution providing greater autonomy to the Tamil people, he has proved unwilling yet to address key issues of military’s occupation of civilian land, demilitarization, and the detention of Tamil political prisoners. Instead arbitrary arrests and ‘disappearances’ of Tamils has continued. In the recently held elections to the local bodies, candidates of Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka People’s Front (SLPP) won a resounding victory, signaling a crisis for the Sirisena-led coalition Government. The Modi Government is doing little to engage the Sirisena Government diplomatically to pursue the issue of justice and dignity for the Tamil people. Talks between India and Sri Lanka on the subject of conflicts over fishing rights have resulted in both countries releasing some arrested fishermen of the other country.
  51. While Sri Lanka has banned “bottom trawling” (an environmentally destructive mode of fishing), India too has agreed to phase out bottom-trawling, which was a source of conflict. The question of Indian fishermen being arrested or even killed on charges of illegally fishing in Lankan waters continues to be an issue that the Indian Government must pursue to protect the rights of fishermen. The Central and State Government’s plan to replace bottom-trawlers with deep-sea fishing vessels subsidized by both Governments would help resolve the issue. But as of now the scheme requires each fisherman to contribute Rs 8 lakh towards converting his trawler, and this cost excludes smaller fishermen. The Government of India and Government of Tamil Nadu should together contribute enough to ensure that smaller fishermen too are able to use deep-sea fishing vessels, and that all the fishermen receive the training and other assistance needed to make th shift from bottom-trawling to deep-sea fishing.
  52. Recently, Sri Lanka witnessed communal violence by Sinhala Buddhist mobs against the minority Muslim population in Kandy district – with tacit collusion and calculated inaction by the police. The declaration of a state of emergency in these areas may actually work against the interests of the minority population, given the Sinhala bias of the security force. Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist forces enjoy patronage from Sri Lanka’s main ruling and opposition parties.
  53. As revolutionary communists, we must strive to develop closer ties with communist parties as well as the whole range of progressive movements and forces all over the world; strengthen international solidarity against war and for freedom and human rights, against racism and Islamophobia, and for the freedom of Palestine; develop closer cooperation and coordination against the offensive of global capital and MNCs violating labour laws and country laws; and achieve closer cooperation among progressive forces in South Asia – for peace and democracy, against war, terrorism and religious extremism, and the politics of hate and bigotry.