Millions Mobilise as Mubarak Manoeuvres!

Following his analysis of the Tunisian situation Roy Ratcliffe sends this insightful, challenging and timely assessment of the fragile condition of the amazing, popular and pluralist uprising in Egypt. last night as I watched Mubarak’s speech I feared the orchestrated and violent backlash we are witnessing.

Roy begins:

The spectacle of Mubarak on television, telling the Egyptians and his patrons, Israel and the USA, that he would continue in office, and prepare an orderly transition to democracy, shows the extent to which he (and his patrons) have failed to understand, the real dynamics of what is unfolding in the middle-east and elsewhere. They are so habituated to the subterranean world of politics and diplomacy, that they only recognise and value ‘democracy’ when it operates through their own preferred and corrupted systems. Over two millions on the street in orderly peaceful protest asking for what they want is not seen by the Egyptian political elite as an expression of democracy in action, whilst their rigged and ‘paid for’ elections results are. That other political regime, which buys election results with million pound television adds and campaigns of confusion and illusion in North America, slowly lumbered into gear. It first suggested to Mubarak, that he consider urgent democratic reforms. When it was pointed out to them that this had been the advice offered to him by his own people, and others, for many years, they changed their suggestion to him as ‘overseeing an orderly transition’ to democracy. From this lethargic and self-serving US response, we can gather that peaceful ‘regime change’ by the people in Egypt, is seen by the US elite as a disorderly transition, while violent ‘regime changes’ in Iraq and Afghanistan, by a US-led armed invasion are seen as orderly ones. However, after a week-long diplomatic consultation and international covert communication, Mubarak finally ‘on message’, duly obliged and broadcast his intention to stay in control, on Tuesday 1st February.

Later here he suggests:

Mubarak, by his refusal to step down, has ensured there cannot now be an orderly transition. This decision means that the citizens uprising must face two opposed alternatives or muddle an alternative between them. First, they can simply trust these decades-old Mubarak promises, give up their demands for immediate change and return home to the general circumstances, which fuelled the uprising in the first place. However, if they do so there will be two additional problems. First, he may simply change his mind again. Second, a decision to give up and disband in this way will invite a reactionary retaliation, in which all the oppressive state and thug forces, now partially dormant and waiting in the wings, will be reactivated, to ensure, whatever political system follows, will not be influenced by the mass of citizens on the street. With or without his actual presence, a pro-Mubarak, re-invigorated police force, supported by fascistic irregulars will move increasingly into action. See below. If successful they will arrest, beat and torture uprising ring-leaders and anyone disliked will be picked off, slowly or quickly as conditions allow, until the population is once more cowed into submission. In such circumstances, many people will be forced to fight back in self-defence and so the situation, will be far from peaceful.

Read the whole piece Millions Mobilise as Murbarak Manoeuvres.


Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,


Following on from our posting of the Gaza Manifesto, Roy Ratcliffe, a leading figure across three decades in youth and community work and a long-standing activist in the Palestinian Liberation Movement, has sent his thoughts on the tumultuous situation in Tunisia.

As ever comments and criticisms welcomed.

He begins:

1. The background.

The recent explosive events in Tunisia were triggered in December 2010, by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university graduate. Although the full reasons go back much further. Still jobless after graduating, Mohamed ran a fruit and vegetable stand which was confiscated because he lacked of an official permit. He was part of the growing international army of jobless and low-paid young workers, created by the global system of industrial, commercial and financial capital. In the case of Tunisia youth unemployment had been rising, at least since the IMF intervention in the late 1980’s. It can now be as high as 50% in some areas of the country and in the present global crisis, can only creep higher. In periods of inflation, an addition problem for those in Tunisia, was that wages in tourism, textiles and agriculture, were and are, invariably low. As in most other capital dominated countries, the contrast between poverty and extreme wealth in Tunisia is glaring. A recent Wikileaks cable from the US embassy in Tunis, for example, suggested that the prime Minister Ben Ali, and his oligarchy had their hands in and on 50 per cent of the country’s economy.

When this brutal oligarch delivered a speech on the twelfth day of the revolt to promise (as he had done on many previous occasions), that he would allow democratic elections, nobody believed him and the masses responded that the protests would continue. The government ordered the closure of schools and universities and the police to physically quell what they considered was simply a flash in the pan by rebellious youth. Dozens were shot in various towns but this only had the effect of bringing more people into the fray, such as Trade Unionists, some Islamists and Communists. The President only ordered a halt to the beatings and shooting, when it became obvious, that any further slaughter by the police would provoke a mutiny in the army ranks which might also occur even at the senior military level. When Ben Ali later secretly left the country he was following something of a tradition set by previous fleeing discredited politicia

2. The participants.

The first participants were the unemployed youth who initially demonstrated and were later were joined by workers from industry, university and school students, teachers and even lawyers. Eventually the national leadership of the sole legal trade union confederation, the UGTT, which initially denounced the movement (“unlike some of its local and regional bodies“) was finally obliged to give its official support. Young people played a new and important role in the communication and organisation of the protests through their frequent and skilled use of modern technology in the form of mobile phones, the internet and in particular Facebook.


Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,


You will find below the full text of an eloquent and courageous statement from a group of young people in Gaza. Its appearance was sparked by the closure of the Sharek Youth Forum – see Youth work is forbidden in Gaza. Its appearance too has fired all manner of supportive and hostile response – more links later.


Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalizing this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. The final drop that made our hearts tremble with frustration and hopelessness happened 30rd November, when Hamas’ officers came to Sharek Youth Forum, a leading youth organization ( with their guns, lies and aggressiveness, throwing everybody outside, incarcerating some and prohibiting Sharek from working. A few days later, demonstrators in front of Sharek were beaten and some incarcerated. We are really living a nightmare inside a nightmare. It is difficult to find words for the pressure we are under. We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. They did not get rid of Hamas, as they intended, but they sure scared us forever and distributed post traumatic stress syndrome to everybody, as there was nowhere to run.

We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the earth. During the last years Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.

History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!

We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want!

We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted.

This is the Gazan youth’s manifesto for change!

We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect. We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls.

We only hope that you – yes, you reading this statement right now! – can support us. In order to find out how, please write on our wall or contact us directly:

We want to be free, we want to live, we want peace.


Please consider supporting us by taking one or more of the following actions:

1) Promoting our manifesto by sharing it on your profile on Facebook
2) Sending an email to your friends asking them to like our page FB
3) Translating the manifesto to your language and sending it to us (we have it in English, Arabic, Hebrew, French, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Danish)
4) Sending the manifesto to journalists in your country
5) Making organizations in your countries that are concerned with the Palestinian issue and/or youth rights know about our existence
6) Posting links about violation of youth’s rights in Gaza on our wall
7) Planning an event in your country about this issue and/or organizing for a skype conference, where we are able to talk with a group of youth, politicians or others outside Gaza
8) Suggesting us ideas for reaching out to a greater number of people.

To confirm Facebook at Gaza Youth Breaks Out

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm  Leave a Comment