LETTERS: July 21, 2007

Solidarity in India

Students at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi concluded their 12-day hunger strike victoriously! The hunger strike was the next step in the ongoing protest against campus construction workers being paid less than half the legal minimum wage.

Years of abuses and silent suffering of the most vulnerable campus workers had recently come to student-activists’ attention, and many non-contract wageworkers had been fired for even asking for meager increases. Contractors kicked out workers and tore down their temporary housing with the help of university security.

For leftist students at JNU, it was time for action and hardcore solidarity!

On Feb. 19, in solidarity with campus laborers, students surrounded the registrar of the university in a traditional, nonviolent gesture of political confrontation, known in the local language as gherao.

As a result, three students were expelled and eight others were strapped with fines. Their comrades, headed by student union President Dhananjay Tripathi and Vice President Tyler Walker Williams, decided to starve themselves for justice.

The arrogant, right-wing vice chancellor, B.B. Bhattacharya, has been making it a mission to depoliticize and corporatize the university, famous throughout the world (especially the Third World) for its traditions of grassroots Marxist activism. He initially scoffed at the students. As the hunger strike went on, the pressure mounted. Finally, on July 12, a settlement was reached.

Expelled students have been given assurance that, upon review of their cases, they will be immediately re-admitted. As for the workers, a committee will be convened within a month to review their situation.

Williams, vice president of the JNU student union, was the first foreigner ever elected to student office at the university. He comes from San Andreas, a small rural town in northern California, and joined JNU six years ago to continue advanced studies in Hindi literature.

U.S. students should be proud of our Indian (and American) comrades for giving the bourgeois administration a bitter lesson in class struggle!

Jesse Knutson
New Delhi, India

Arkansas priorities: public health or arrests?

You may not be familiar with the Rainbow Gathering. They are a group of latter-day hippies, mainly young people. They camp out in the national forest every year, enjoy nature and pray for peace.

This year they were in Arkansas. Someone in the group came down with meningitis. Health workers went out to look for people who had had contact with the sick person to give them preventive medicine. The police threw the health workers out, afraid they might get in the way of the arrests the police wanted to make. The police had their priorities: Arrest as many as possible and collect fines for the treasury of Newton County, Ark. They set up a temporary court in a parking lot. Fortunately, the health workers had their priorities also. They came back the next day with the medicine for those who had been exposed.

Pammela Wright
Via e-mail

Skeptic’s questions

Regarding Hanna Amireh’s article “Gaza and after” (PWW 7/7-13), didn’t Hamas win the election? Didn’t Fatah refuse to comply, and accept withheld tax monies from Israel, while Gaza was not given their share? To me, the position of the Palestinian People’s Party is very questionable. I am very skeptical about the coverage of this situation in the PWW.

David Kuehn
Atlanta GA

Editor’s note: The main points of Amireh’s article, as we read it, are that disunity and infighting among the Palestinian people is a setback and helps the Israeli (and U.S.) governments to, as the article says, “disintegrate” the occupied Palestinian territories. You may not agree with the author’s view, but there is little to be served by our paper, or any progressive American, supporting actions that divide the Palestinian movement, regardless of the internal problems and shortcomings. The Palestinians themselves have to deal with their internal difficulties.

Amireh is a leader of the Palestinian People’s Party, a party with a long history fighting for a two-state solution and for a democratic secular Palestinian state. It’s been a leading force in the PLO since its inception. The PPP traces its roots to the Palestinian Communist Party founded in 1920.

Our coverage has pointed to the very negative role of the Bush administration in undermining the political structures, leadership and economy of the Palestinian people. As a result, the Palestinian people face a very serious situation. Our focus, we feel, should be on our government and changing its policy.

Who is to blame?

It isn’t just Wall Street and the warhawks, but also warlords — a carryover from monarchy — who delight in war and setting country against country, who are to blame in causing wars.

Who are we to blame for lack of progress in doing away with war? A growing abolish-war-for-all-time movement was forming at the end of World War II and helped found the United Nations.

The struggle against atomic war was different, since more people became sensible about such an all-endangering menace of total destruction.

Let’s “encourage” the war people to find a better way to earn a living!

George Gaylord
Anaheim CA

HP rocks

Thanks for the Harry Potter story (PWW 6/30-7/6). I really like seeing articles like that in the PWW. Plus, Harry Potter rocks! Peace.

Matt Parker
New York NY

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