Every year LALIT members recall the nuclear bombs dropped on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One year, one of our members, Ragini Kistnasamy, was present at annual commemorations in both Tokyo and Okinawa. This year we sent a message of solidarity to the International Antiwar Assemblies on 2 August, via the political party we have links with in Japan. In reply to our letter, we received an interesting update on the issue of Coronavirus epidemic in relation to Okinawa being occupied by US military bases (See just under our solidarity letter).
LALIT in Mauritius expresses solidarity on the occasion of the 58th International Antiwar Assemblies to be held in Japan on 2 August 2020.
This year, the Antiwar assemblies are being held in the exceptional circumtances of a pandemic of Covid-19 affecting the lives of workers and poor people across the world in a disproportionately hard way.
This major health crisis has been, and still is, followed everywhere by the long-term, existing capitalist crisis now diving into more severe depths with the halt of many parts of the economy world-wide. The consequences of the combined health-and-economic crises on working class lives are drastic: there are jobs lost, wages cut, and a marked deterrioration of work conditions, including having to work from home, besides having to pay for rises in the prices of basic needs.
In Mauritius, the Government brought major changes in legislation, with more repression on working people including even new work sectors where strikes are now completely illegal, not just during the lockdown period but without any end-date. There are harsher labour laws. The working class and poor people are being made to carry the burden of the economic crisis, while government is heavily subsidizing the bosses to saveguard their profits.
At the international level, imperialist states are not spared the virus and its effects either. Many, like the USA, have a galloping epidemic inside their territory, and also at the level of their military bases, even those abroad, where the virus has flared up, as well as on war-ships, which become like prisons, while the virus rages. For instance, we learnt that some of the US military bases on Okinawa are now under lockdown following cases of Covid-19, while in Okinawa, we understand, local new cases were down to zero. Military bases, thus represent threats not only against peace in the world, but also of spreading the deadly virus. It shows how “bases” are bits of the imperialist country, in this case, the USA, that are outside their borders, in this case part of Japan. Warships are, similarly, bits of imperialist countries that roam the seas.
Our struggle for closing down of the US military base in the Indian Ocean has moved a step forward last year, with the U.N. Resolution compelling UK to end its illegal occupation of the Chagos Islands, stolen from Mauritius in 1960’s and then one of the Chagos Islands was leased by the UK to the US imperialists to set-up the Diego Garcia Military base. This UN Resolution followed the judgment of the International Court of Justice against Britain the previous year.
The Diego Garcia military base, over which we need to gain proper democratic control, was used as a trampoline for the USA to wage wars against Iraq and Afganisthan. The military base was where B-52 bombers took off from, while nuclear submarines are repaired there. It was also used by CIA agents for interrogations and illegal torturing of international prisoners, what was known as “rendering”.
In Mauritius, LALIT together with workers’ organisations and women’s associations, is involved in an ongoing campaign to build international support for the dismantling of the military base on Diego Garcia, for the rights of return for the Chagossians, those Mauritians who were forcibly removed from Chagos Islands, and for the complete decolonisation of the African continent. We have noted with great excitement how the struggle in the USA and elsewhere against violence of police towards working people, has moved a step forward to denounce colonialism and all its left-overs.
Our struggle cannot be separated from other international struggles to close military bases in the world, to end wars and to send the troops back home.
LALIT supports the International Antiwar Assemblies intitiative in Japan. We admire your persistence in the fight against imperialist wars and against capitalist exploitation of the working class.
At the time when a world-wide wave of an epidemic, provoking a world-wide wave of new capitalist crises, causes so much suffering, it is also a time when we must challenge the “old order” that existed before the pandemic. The old normal, we find, was just not good enough.
Long live workers’ international solidarity! Towards a revolutionary change!
Long Live the struggle for socialism!
Rada Kistnasamy, for LALIT, 19 July 2020
Facebook: Lalit Mauritius
“Dear Comrade Kistnasamy,
“Thank you for this encouraging message.
“Yes, US bases in Okinawa are now another origin of the virus infection. Local base workers are still ordered by the military to continue to work inside military facilities while taxi drivers and restaurant staffs near bases are at the risk of infection. The US military had concealed the in-base infection before it became serious and unable to be concealed. I think this is a common issue to those whose territories are occupied by military bases.
“Let us continue to fight together.”
Now, as we write this article, the need for internationalism in the struggle against capitalism is accentuated by the fact that we are at a moment when it is a big Japanese ship that is causing an oil-spill in Mauritius’ pristine lagoons.