From Palestine to the Philippines: Months of Solidarity 2020

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle or ILPS declared September and October as months of solidarity with the democratic, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggles of the peoples of the Philippines and Palestine, respectively.

As a broad anti-imperialist and democratic international alliance of people’s organizations, the ILPS deems it necessary and urgent to gather and showcase international solidarity with the peoples of the Philippines and Palestine in the face of relentless attacks by US-backed tyrannical ruling regimes.

The ILPS was founded in 2001 and is proud to have distinguished itself in holding protest actions and various activities in different parts of the globe against policies and actions that seek to further imperialist plunder and wars of aggression.

The people of the Philippines are fighting for national and social liberation against US imperialism and its lackeys among the country’s ruling elites composed of big comprador-bourgeoisie and landlords — which dominate the country’s semi-colonial and semi-feudal society.

The people of Palestine are fighting for national and social liberation against the Zionist economic and political elite of Israel and the international Zionist movement backed and armed by US imperialism — which are enforcing settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid in Palestine.

Both liberation struggles are tagged as terrorists by the world’s biggest terrorists — US imperialism and elites allied to it — and are under intense and non-stop attack. The peoples of the world stand with the people of the Philippines and Palestine in their right to resist and to fight for national self-determination.

Such a right is enshrined no less than in a 1983 United Nations’ General Assembly resolution upholding “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.”

Declaring a “month of solidarity” means that various activities that show solidarity with the peoples’ struggles will be organized within the month.These activities are brought together to complement each other in raising awareness of and urging action on the situation of the struggles and their immediate and long-term demands.

SEPTEMBER: THE PHILIPPINES

In his call to action for the solidarity month for the Philippine struggle, ILPS chairperson and longstanding Australian trade-unionist Len Cooper underscored the importance of the series of activities: the 48th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the martial law-like conditions obtaining in the country under current president Rodrigo Duterte.

He also mentioned the extra-judicial killing of peasant activist and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randall Echanis and of human rights advocate worker Zara Alvarez, both in August. In July, the Duterte regime passed a more draconian Anti-Terrorism Law, even as its notorious “war on drugs” — which has killed more than 20,000 people — continues to claim lives.

Cooper said Duterte “consolidated his political base among the old and new oligarchs of big landlords and comprador big bourgeoisie while militarizing the bureaucracy and favoring the military, and kowtowing to the dictates and demands of the US and China.

The webinar that kicked off the month of solidarity featured speakers who discussed the crises besetting the Philippines’ semi-colonial and semifeudal society: Sonny Africa of think-tank Ibon Foundation discussed the economic crisis, Vinz Simon of militant youth group Anakbayan discussed the political crisis under the Duterte regime, and Lisa Ito of the Concerned Artist of the Philippines discussed the cultural crisis.

Africa presented data that belie claims that the Philippines has developed, industrialized and became a capitalist country. He convincingly showed that since the onslaught of neoliberal economic policies in the 1980s, the Philippines has seen “worsening agricultural backwardness and industrial decline.” The Philippine economy, he says, is dominated by the service sector and informal work, and the only major change in the past decades is the economy’s dependence on labor migration.

The second webinar featured Prof. Jose Maria Sison, ILPS chairperson emeritus and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and Renato M. Reyes, Jr., secretary-general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance). Reyes, who carefully points out that Bayan is part of the legal and democratic movement waging the national-democratic struggle in the country, discussed the national-democratic program in his presentation.

In his speech, Sison discussed the national-democratic revolution and said, “In continuing the national-democratic revolution against tremendous odds, including the most brutal forms of suppression, the Filipino people demonstrate their determination, courage and capabilities… At the same time, they find common cause with the peoples of the world and seek international solidarity and support from them against imperialism and all reaction.”

On September 14, a Global Day of Action led by human-rights group Karapatan was held to call to #StopTheKillings in the Philippines. One of the demands that the action centered on was for the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the extrajudicial killings of human rights activists and peace advocates in the Philippines.

The lively program opened with Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay presenting the grim and gory human rights situation. Apart from testimonies from victims and relatives of victims of human-rights violations, the program showcased a broad array of individuals and groups who expressed solidarity with Filipinos in opposing extrajudicial killings and calling for a UNHRC probe.

Among those who expressed solidarity were UN special rapporteurs on various concerns, parliamentarians from the European Union, Basque and Australia, leaders of INGOs, human-rights groups from different parts of the globe, as well as grassroots organizations from different continents. There was a memorable singing of the revolutionary song “Bella Ciao” led by the Belgium’s PVDA-PTB. Speakers from Africa included ILPS-Kenya, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers of South Africa, and the renowned Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shockdwellers Movement) of South Africa.

A notable statement was made by Jan Fermon, secretary-general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers or IADL, the largest international organization of progressive lawyers. He called the killings perpetrated by the Duterte regime “crimes against humanity,” citing the Nuremberg principles, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the International People’s Tribunal of 2018.

Continuing the discussion on the revolutionary struggle, a webinar was held on September 18 that discussed the peace negotiations in relation to the people’s war in the country. Serving as main speaker was Juliet de Lima, interim chairperson of the NDFP negotiating panel. She emphasized that the peace talks is a way of promoting the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution and has the same objective as that of waging the people’s war: addressing the root causes of the armed conflict to achieve a just and lasting peace.

Various activities were held to show solidarity with the Filipino people. A September 19 webinar was held in the Spanish language to discuss the national liberation struggle of the Philippines and Palestine among activists in Latin America. On September 18, a whole-day social media campaign was conducted, led by ILPS-Global. On September 21, a global online protest against the tyranny of the Duterte regime was held, led by the ILPS Asia-Pacific. On the same date, Filipino migrants worldwide held an online rally led by Migrante International. And on September 30, a cultural solidarity program ended the month of solidarity.

For the September 21 Global Day of Action, outdoor and symbolic protests were held in the Philippines, Hawaii, Chicago USA, France, Togo, West Papua, Palestine, Canada, The Netherlands, Guatemala, Los Angeles USA, Bolivia and Hong Kong. ILPS-Africa, ILPS Asia-Pacific and other ILPS regions were able to release videos of solidarity greetings.

Global formations such as the International Migrants Alliance (IMA), the International Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), and the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) mobilized their member organizations and networks to support the ILPS call, organized symbolic protests and webinars, and issued solidarity greetings.

OCTOBER: PALESTINE

In calling for a month of solidarity with Palestine, the ILPS says that it “has consistently supported the continuing, magnificent, and courageous struggles of the Palestinian people against imperialism and Zionism.”

The struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation has been long and arduous. With the solidarity month, the ILPS aimed to raise and deepen awareness on “the history of Israeli colonialism and apartheid, the rejection of agreements of humiliation and ‘normalization’ between Zionism and some Arab countries, the global campaign to return to Palestine, support for the Intifada, the liberation of the Palestinian people, the unified capital of Palestine, the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, and so on.”

At the same time, the month of solidarity with the Palestinian people was being held in the wake of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement in June that Israel will annex parts of the occupied West Bank. The move is supported by US president Donald Trump’s so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which was announced in January. The annexation has been vehemently condemned by Palestinians who see it as another major loss of land and another attack on their right to national self-determination, freedom and independence.

In the first webinar in the solidarity month, freedom fighter Leila Khaled of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) gave an impassioned keynote address in which she told stories of the sufferings that she and her family endured under Israel’s occupation of Palestine. She recalled the Nakba, the catastrophe suffered by the Palestinian people on May 15, 1948, when Israel formally robbed the Palestinians of their land.

Khaled said that the core issue of the struggle is the Palestinian people’s sovereign right over their lands. Palestinians want to return to their land, create their future and exercise their self-determination there. “Everything we are deprived of,” she says, “is in Palestine and not in any other part of the world.” She vehemently rejects the label “terrorist” being pinned on Palestinians, saying that occupation is the peak of terrorism. She reiterates the “democratic, humane solution” offered by the PFLP: the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland and their establishment of a democratic state there.

She says that as owners of the land of Palestine, Palestinians look to the future and are full of hope. In contrast, the Zionist leaders of Israel are thieves and are bound to fear. She ended her address with an appeal: “Let’s globalize our struggles. Let’s have our plans together. I’m sure we will win. We have to prepare all the tools that we can use.”

Meanwhile, Heba Labadi, a former political prisoner held by Israel, talked about her experience under administrative detention, a weapon used by Israel against Palestinians. She was arbitrarily accused of being a terrorist, imprisoned in poor conditions, tortured, not allowed to see relatives or lawyers, and sentenced to a longer prison stay. She won her freedom only through a hunger strike. She says this cruel form of detention proves that “There is zero human rights under occupation.”

Grassroots movement organizer Jamal Jurna discussed in detail the Trump-Netanyahu annexation plan and how it will further negatively affect Palestinians. He says the Palestinian struggle has three immediate tasks at present: reunification of parties leading the resistance, rehabilitation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and creation of a united leadership of the Intifada. In these efforts, he says, international solidarity is most important and he called on the public to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as an apartheid colonial state.

In another webinar, Hadeel Shatara of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network presented the numerous “pretend peace plans” with regard to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She zeroed in on the Oslo Accords, which she says is “the greatest catastrophe that happened to us,” for having “institutionalized” the struggle even as it attacked the latter. She asserts that it is only through the struggle for national self-determination that peace based on justice in Palestine can be achieved — not through negotiations especially in the face of overwhelming imperialist and Zionist power.

In yet another webinar, Khaled Barakat, also of Samidoun, reviewed the Palestinian people’s history of oppression and resistance starting from the Nakba, when he said US imperialism decided to create a base for imperialism, colonialism and Zionism in the state of Israel. He was scathing in criticizing the Palestinian Authority, which he said was created by the capitalist Palestinians, or the richest 1% of the Palestinian population. He says the authority does not have a liberation program and constitutes a “stab in the back” and “sell out” of Palestinian refugees. He underscored the need for Palestinians to rebuild their institutions and the role of the Palestinian youth in carrying out this task.

Meanwhile, Corinna Mullin of the City University of New York discussed Israel’s central role to US imperialism. She says that beyond the immense support provided by the US to Israel — more than USD 134 billion since 1948 and USD 3.8 billion a year — we should see the central role played by Israel to creating wealth for US imperialism. According to her, the key features of this are as follows: Israel’s role in the US-dominated industrial-military complex; expanding and protecting US empire; facilitating value drain from the periphery to the center; and undermining possibilities for alternative political projects “that are based on solidarity, self-determination and a rejection of colonial capitalist modes of development in the Arab world and Global South.”

In the “Oppression and Resistance: Palestine Fights for Liberation” webinar held on October 18, speakers discussed the severe repression inflicted on Palestinians both in their homeland and in the diaspora, from the US to Europe and Lebanon. On October 16, the ILPS-Global also released educational materials on the Palestinian struggle on Facebook.

Various activities were held to show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle: On October 8, a day of prayer for peace was held in which religious leaders from the Philippines, Palestine and South Africa participated. On October 10, ILPS-Belgium held a protest in time for Israel Start-up Nation’s participation in cycling classes along the Tour de France 2020 route. It hoisted the Palestinian flag and signs that read “Free Palestine” and “Boycott Israel.”

In ILPS-West Asia’s October 15 webinar titled “Thank You Palestine,” solidarity messages from all over the world poured in: the Philippines, Malaysia, Brazil, Indonesia, Zambia, Kenya, Pakistan, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Australia, Luxembourg, Guatemala, Morocco, Belgium, India, among others. ILPS-Latin America and ILPS-Australia also organized webinars in which the vibrant solidarity movement for the Palestinian struggle in their regions took central stage.

On October 27, online and offline solidarity protests were conducted in various parts of the globe. Protest actions were held in the Philippines and in Latin America, while protest selfies were issued by ILPS-Asia PacificIbon International, and the ILPS Commission on Children. A cultural solidarity webinar held on October 30 served as the culmination for the month of solidarity and featured performances from various continents.

SOLIDARITY

In his solidarity message for the Philippines, Frank Chapman, executive director of the US-based National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, recalled something that Samora Machel, the Mozambican socialist revolutionary, said.

Machel said, “International solidarity is not an act of charity: It is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objective. The foremost of these objectives is to aid the development of humanity to the highest level possible.”

In the months of solidarity with the liberation struggle of the people of the Philippines and Palestine, we have seen how solidarity, indeed, is not an act of charity. It is unity forged at various levels: from opposing extra-judicial killings in the Philippines to fighting imperialist domination of that country, and from opposing the various forms of arrests and sufferings inflicted on the Palestinian people to fighting imperialist-backed Zionist occupation of their land.

Solidarity in these cases serves to weaken the main enemies of the peoples of the world: imperialism and its running dogs among the elites of various countries. Solidarity in these cases serves to advance the struggle for a better world, recognized by many as socialism, which means the development of all humans to the highest level possible.

Long live international solidarity!

_________
The author was a long-time leader of women’s alliance GABRIELA in the Philippines, a legislator in the country’s House of Representatives, and a Cabinet member as lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. She is now general secretary of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS).

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