Civil liberties, justice, crime

Labour's martyrs: the story of Sacco and Vanzetti

Workers' Liberty 3/53, published as a pull-out in Solidarity 397. The story of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, told by James P Cannon and Max Shachtman, who were leading activists in the defence campaign. Click to download as pdf

Women's Fightback: More services, fewer jails!

The government has announced a ÂŁ150m plan to create 500 new prison places for women. It says that the extra places are needed because an extra 20,000 police officers will lead to more female arrests. Prisons are filled with people whose lives have been made especially difficult by the brutality of capitalism: the poor, the homeless, those with mental health and addiction, those who experience racism. Two-thirds of women in prison are survivors of domestic abuse. Over half experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse during their childhood. Coercive and abusive relationships can serve to...

New repression in Hong Kong

On Sunday 28 February 47 participants in Hong Kong’s democratic primaries last June were charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion”, a charge that brings a possible life sentence. The hearing of bail requests from the 47 slowed down court proceedings. Only six were heard before the normal end of court business. The court continued until 2:30am, when Clarisse Yeung, one of the defendants, collapsed and had to be taken to hospital. Another three were also taken to hospital, including Leung Kwok Hung. It looks as though all bail will be refused and all will be remanded in prison for the next...

Punishment without trial

The UK Supreme Court has upheld the government’s removal of citizenship from East London woman Shamima Begum, who went to Syria six years ago to support Daesh / ISIS. The court said that Begum has a right to contest the decision, but the government has a right to bar her from re-entering the UK, which means she cannot exercise the right to contest it. Begum devoted herself to supporting a monstrous, blood-soaked ideology and movement (though she was only 15 when she went). But the removal of her citizenship is a setback, not a victory, for human rights. Since 2003 the UK government’s legal...

Social reproduction in prisons

Women prisoners after a day working, Arizona, US At a recent Spectre journal event, editor Charlie Post pointed out that neither left class reductionists nor liberal identitarians situate mass incarceration in the development of capitalism. Calvin John Smiley, one of the speakers, responded that intersectionality is the “marrying of these different arguments into an overlapping theoretical framework. ” At best, intersectionality describes mass incarceration but does not explain it. The prison population is overwhelmingly black and overwhelmingly working-class. But why are prisoners at the...

Drop charges against Hong Kong rebels!

On 16 February, the trial started of seven democracy leaders in Hong Kong. Two others pleaded guilty. They are accused of organising an unauthorised assembly on 18 August 2019, when the Civil Front called a rally of 1.7 million people. Among the accused are Hong Kong trade union leader Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the HKCTU (Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions); other left wing activists such as Leung Kwok Hung (“Long Hair”); and “pan-democratic” veterans such as the 82 year old Martin Lee. The charges, unconnected with the new National Security Law (NSL) and relying instead on old...

Court case opens space for Indian women

A former Indian minister has lost a defamation case against a journalist, in a ruling with huge implications for the country’s #MeToo movement. Indian journalist Priya Ramani had faced up to two years in jail for criminal defamation over an article she had written accusing Mobashar Jawed Akbar of sexual assault. Akbar is a newspaper editor, government minister 2016-18, MP for the ruling BJP, and formerly an MP for the Congress party. After Ramani named Akbar, over 20 other women came forward with allegations against Akbar, ranging from rape and assault to systematically using his senior...

Hong Kong faces wave of trials

On 16 February, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions general secretary Lee Cheuk-yan went into court for his trial for alleged “unauthorised assembly” on 18 August 2019. He said: “Let’s uphold the fundamental rights, freedoms and democracy. As 2021 is the year of the Ox, I wish everyone to be as strong as an ox and persistence for democracy… “It should be the police, the Department of Justice and the Hong Kong government to be put on trial, because they deprived us of the right to assembly and demonstration, which is protected constitutionally”. The 18 August 2019 protest, against police...

Release Nodeep Kaur and Shiv Kumar!

The Modi government’s repression against Indian farmers’ protests (Solidarity 581) could signal the Hindu-nationalist regime’s panic-stricken weakening and decline, or the onset of an even more consolidated authoritarianism. The repression is harsh and escalating. About two hundred farmers have died as a result of protracted living in protest camps over the winter, and about twenty have committed suicide. A smaller number have been directly killed, including a 27-year-old who lost control of his tractor after it was hit by a bullet when troops attacked the peaceful mass protest in Delhi on...

Beware new "security" powers!

“Our history is littered with examples of initiatives sold as being necessary to fight extremism that quickly devolve into tools used for the mass violation of the human and civil rights of the American people”, write Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and nine other representatives, opposing the call from leaders of both US political parties for expanded “national security” powers in response to the 6 January far-right attack on Congress. "We firmly believe", they say, "that the national security and surveillance powers of the U.S. government are already too broad, undefined, and...

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