Partisan №5

Let’s Support Our Jailed Comrades!

On June 19, 1986, after a heroic resistance, nearly 300 prisoners associated with the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) were cowardly murdered by the genocidal regime of the social-democratic President Alan Garcia. A few days later, in memory of those comrades, the PCP Central Committee declared June 19 as the “Day of Heroism.” This day is now known worldwide as a day of solidarity with revolutionary prisoners. This issue of Partisan newspaper is dedicated to them.

Throughout history, the capitalist state has always suppressed its opponents. The so-called “democratic rights” the system officially recognizes are made irrelevant when the capitalist interests require so. As long as the power of the small clique of capitalists is not challenged, the state is ready to let us speak, but no more! From the moment the interests of capitalists are involved, there is no question of letting us talk, let alone act.

Political opponents, union activists, legitimate representatives of peoples oppressed by imperialism: across the world, prisons are full of resisters who dared to challenge the unjust order the reactionaries are enforcing. Among them, those who uphold a complete reversal of the established order —the communists and revolutionaries— are especially targeted.

The heroic resistance and courage of revolutionary prisoners prove once again that nothing —not even the worst abuse and the hardest repression— can stop the will of the proletariat and oppressed peoples to live in a world free from oppression and exploitation.

Over the past decade, activists have tried to build a movement of support to revolutionary, communist, anarchist, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist prisoners, one that can fight class repression and counter-revolution. This movement is organized around the Commission for an International Red Aid, as a continuation of the organization launched by the former Communist International. In 1922, Comintern’s 4th Congress asked each communist party “to assist in the creation of organizations to render material and moral aid to all captives of capitalism in prison.”

Chaired by a Polish revolutionary named Julian Marchlewski and later by the famous feminist and communist activist Clara Zetkin, the International Red Aid led major campaigns, including one in solidarity with the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, condemned to death by the U.S. “justice,” and eventually against the rise of fascism that swept several European countries.

In Canada, the Labour Defense League was founded in 1924 and joined the International Red Aid. It actively supported the militant labour activists who were facing repression from the bourgeois state; it also campaigned successfully against the criminalization of the Communist Party of Canada and the arrest of nine of its leaders who were charged with “sedition.” In 1934, the Labour Defense League had about 17,000 active members and 26,000 sympathizers.

With the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943, the International Red Aid ceased to exist and its various national chapters eventually disappeared as well. It was only 30 years later, in the turmoil of the 1970s, that Red Aid-inspired organizations reappeared, notably in France with the help of Jean-Paul Sartre; but these new groups failed to establish a new international organization. We had to wait until 2000 before a meeting attended by delegates from Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy was held, where the current Commission for an International Red Aid was set up and a common platform was adopted.

According to that platform, “are considered political prisoners all revolutionary activists detained for their political or politico-military activities, and all workers, peasants, unemployed, students, youth, women and others persecuted and imprisoned for their participation in the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles.”

The platform explains that “the Red Aid activity is not humanitarian nor charitable; it is political by nature:” “The Red Aid activity is not neutral, but is part of a single anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist movement, whose objective is to overthrow the exploitative and oppressive system. It aims to link the resistance of the comrades in prison with the growing resistance outside and to link that whole resistance movement with the proletarian and mass struggle for revolution and communism.”

Red Aid assumes that “to support the struggles and the political identity of political prisoners reinforces the mass movements in the common struggle against capitalism;” and that “similarly, developing class struggle and concretely taking part in the rebirth of the revolutionary and communist movement are the best way to support our jailed comrades.”

Under its democratic mask, the Canadian bourgeoisie is as fierce as that of other countries. Historically, whenever it felt threatened, it did not hesitate to flout the most elementary democratic rights. From the hanging of Métis leader Louis Riel in 1885 to the latest harassment and criminalization of people like Ronald Cross, Kahentinetha Horn and Shawn Brant, the First Nations were the primary victims of the Canadian state.

In the 1930s, as we have seen, Communists were the target of state repression. In the 1960s, at a time when the Québec separatist movement was still threatening the Canadian bourgeoisie, supporters of armed struggle were harassed and faced a lot of dirty tricks.

With the hardening of the Canadian state repressive apparatus symbolized by the “law and order” agenda of the Harper government —a phenomenon that was obvious at the G20 summit in June 2010 in Toronto— solidarity with the victims of capitalist repression is more necessary than ever. In recent years, Québec Maoists maintained a minimum activity to create a Canadian Red Aid. This work must now be supported more systematically.

Partisan newspaper calls on all its readers to support the building of the Canadian Red Aid. We particularly encourage those wishing to become directly involved to contact us by email, by regular mail (PO Box 1004, Stn. C, Montréal H2L 4V2) or by phone (514 563-1487).

Solidarity Is Our Weapon! Long Live the International Red Aid!

e p D T F s