Solidarity with the International Working Women’s Day Strike 2019

Today, for the third year running, women across the world are going on strike as part of a militant, joyful feminist international, against a world lurching towards barbarism.

With fascism on the march, emboldened by the ascent to power of far-right politics in the U.S.A, Brazil, Poland, India, and Italy, feminist movements in the past year have continued to occupy the front-line of the international fight against barbarism. Among these: the Ele Não movement against Jair Bolsonaro’s fascism in Brazil; the Marea Verde for free, safe, legal abortion in Argentina; the Keralan women who formed a 620 km long human chain to protest for equality in India, the Ni Una Menos movement across Latin America, the Ni Una di Meno movement resisting Salvini’s ‘Security law’ in Italy, and the Kurdish women’s revolution which continues to be instrumental in both the military and ideological defeat of ISIS.

Here in the UK, the past year has seen migrant women in precarious work organise strikes in London, and thousands of public sector working women on strike in Glasgow, as well as the growth of a new feminist anti-fascist movement, which in December led the march against Tommy Robinson and Fortress Britain, carrying a vast banner that read “The enemy doesn’t arrive by boat, he arrives by limousine.”

By withdrawing waged and unwaged labour today, the feminist international is making visible - and making connections between - the many forms of work women do: from the exploitative work of commodity production to the invisibilized work of social reproduction; from the struggle for bodily autonomy, to the struggle for anti-imperialist self-determination; from the fight against gender violence and femicide, to the fight against capitalist extractivism and ecocide. As the Feminist International says, this is a movement that is shaped by feminist movements in the South, and is unequivocally anti-colonial, anti-cisheterosexist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist.

It is a fight to change not only our conditions of work, but our world. In the words of Women’s strike UK: “We are not asking for our fair share under capitalism, we are seeking to destroy altogether a system that is designed to divide and oppress us.”

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers stands in full solidarity with the International Working Women’s Day strike.

We call for donations to the UK Women’s Strike Fund, to help offset the costs to women leaving work and attending strike action and women’s assemblies.

Forward comrades, to a red feminist horizon!

Haldane Condemns the Turkish invasion of Afrin, Northern Syria

We call on the leaders of the U.K., and all other world powers to condemn Turkey's unprovoked attack on the people of Afrin in Syria.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, but is also made up of Arabs, Yezidis, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, among many others,  has until now been one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. While it's defenders, the YPG or People’s Protection Units, are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces allied with the US military in its war with the Islamic State, Afrin itself is surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan first threatened, and is now making good on his threats to attack the region, simply on ideological grounds, without even the pretext of the YPG having attacked or threatened them in any way. This is an act of unilateral violence, and as such, a violation of Nuremberg principles (that waging a war of aggression is the “supreme war crime”), and, if recent statements by Erdogan are to be believed, the ultimate intention of the Turkish invasion is to carry out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the regions Kurdish population. It is unusual that a military incursion is begun with an open declaration of an intention to commit war crimes; but in this instance that appears to be the case.

This makes the UK government response all the more extraordinary. Spokespersons for Theresa May, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have effectively supported the invasion, declaring that “Turkey has a right to want to keep its borders secure.” By this logic any country on earth would have the right to invade any of its neighbours at any time.

Until now, the region has been the place of a world-historical democratic experiment. Local assemblies and councils, women's councils, and assemblies have been created, along with women's police and military units; the YPG also has a long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS. It has made repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava,” which includes Afrin. Rather, it is this very democratic ideology that the Turkish government objects to, claiming it is inspired by the “terrorist” PKK. In other words, rather than welcoming a feminist, ecological, democratic experiment, international powers are siding with a power who is unleashing an unprovoked military assault on the region for just that reason.

Turkey has now begun an overwhelming air assault and ground invasion of Afrin, which has already resulted in significant civilian casualties. Some of these were ironically, refugees who had fled other regions of Syria for Afrin's relative stability and safety.

This attack is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.K. and the international community (U.S., Russia, E.U. members, etc)  have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people, Yezidi people, and others threatened with ethnic cleansing. We call on U.K. officials to demand Turkey pull back it's invading forces immediately and to cease threats against its neighbours.

Solidarity with Ahed Tamimi

The Haldane Society joins colleagues and comrades across the world in condemning Israel’s arrest of Ahed Tamimi and demanding her immediate release.

On 16th December 2017, Ahed and her cousin Nour crossed Ahed’s yard in the village of Nabi Saleh in Palestine’s occupied West Bank, approaching the Israeli soldiers who were standing at the gate. Ahed’s mother Nariman filmed as she slapped and kicked one of the soldiers several times, telling them to leave.

The footage went viral globally, and pro-occupation Israelis saw the ensuing praise for Ahed’s bravery as a national humiliation.

On 19th December Ahed was arrested and detained, and is now facing charges for actions dating back to 2016 that could carry up to 10 years in prison. She is to be tried in Ofer military court, where civilian rights to a fair trial do not apply and which has a conviction rate of over 99%.

Nour and Nariman, who have been released on bail, are also being prosecuted.

The court has decided Ahed is “too dangerous” to get bail. Every day Ahed spends in illegal detention and under interrogation in Ofer Prison – where Unicef has observed systemic mistreatment of minors – puts her in danger of physical and psychological abuse.

Ahed’s family has a long history of persecution by, and resistance against, the occupation. In Ahed’s words, she continues to fight because “every day I see settlers swimming, sitting and playing on my land while I’m afraid one of us will be killed.”

Indeed, on 3rd January 2018, her 17-year-old cousin Musab Firas al-Tamimi was shot dead in a protest, making him the first Palestinian child to be killed by Israeli forces in 2018. When Ahed slapped the soldier, she had just heard the news that the IDF had shot her cousin and neighbour Muhammad in the face, leaving him in a critical condition.

We affirm Ahed’s internationally recognised right to resist the occupation, and condemn Israel’s attempts to suppress resistance through violence against minors.

We call for Ahed to be released urgently so she can return to her family and friends in Nabi Saleh, and we demand that all charges against the three Tamimi women be dropped.

Film screening on the forgotten migrant crisis *UPDATED VENUE*

This is Europe?' Voices from the forgotten migration crisis in Greece.

Speakers: 

  • Theodoris Zeis, Greek Asylum and Immigration Lawyer   
  • Christina Orsini, Director of Inadmissible, Founder of Threadable
 

Date:     Wednesday, 24 January 2018
Time:     6.30pm
Venue:   Karamel, 4 Coburg Road, N22 6UJ London, United Kingdom
Tickets:  £5 - tickets available on the door

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers present a seminar discussion and documentary film screening on the daily life and experiences of refugees in Greece.

Whilst the refugee crisis is no longer front-page news, many refugees and migrants continue to arrive in Greece seeking protection and assistance.

During this evening, we will hear from Theodoris Zeis, a Greek Lawyer who will share his experience working at a grassroots level with refugees in mainland Greece.

Following his talk, there will be a film screening of 'Inadmissable', a documentary film discovering the daily life of refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, exploring the legal and human consequences of the migration agreement between Turkey and Greece.

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Fundamental Freedoms in Danger in Egypt

Haldane Condemns Attack on Our Egyptian Comrades

Mahienour el Massry is an award-winning Egyptian human rights lawyer. Matoesem Medhat is a member of the Egyptian Bread and Freedom Party.  They are both currently languishing in prison cells due to persecution from the military dictatorship.  The Haldane Society has sent the following letter to the Egyptian Ambassador.


Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2018

Protest at the Egyptian Embassy

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In 2018 – the eighth year of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer- the focus of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer will be on Egypt. Many human rights organisations, among them Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, IDHAE, ELDH and the International Commission of Jurists confirm that the Egyptian authorities have moved beyond scaremongering and are now rapidly taking concrete steps to shut down the last critical voices in the country’s human rights community.

Today in Egypt, human rights activists, lawyers, political activists and independent journalists, all have to live with their phone calls being tapped, endless smear campaigns and hate speech from state-affiliated media as well as continuous harassment and intimidation from the authorities. Egypt is going through the most serious human rights crisis in its history.

After the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi the human rights situation has deteriorated dramatically. The government has restricted severely freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association. The authorities have taken harsh actions against dissidents, ten thousands have been arbitrarily arrested, and many of them tortured in custody. Security forces that killed demonstrators have not been held accountable. After harsh unfair trials, hundreds of people have received prison or even death sentences. Victims of this persecution include not only alleged members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood but also any other opponents to the present government, in particular alleged members of socialist organisations and human rights activists.

 

As a result, the international focus of the 2018 Day of the Endangered Lawyer demonstration will be Egypt.

The demonstration in London will take place on 24 January 2018 at 12 pm at the Egyptian Embassy at 26 South Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4DW.

We welcome all comrades to join us there.

 

Turkey must release Selçuk Kozağaçlı, head of our sister organisation CHD

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, alongside our colleagues and comrades from across the world, condemns the arrest of Selçuk Kozağaçlı on Wednesday 8 November by the Turkish authorities and demands his immediate release.

According to press reports, Selçuk Kozağaçlı was arrested whilst on his way to a meeting concerning the rights of human rights defenders.

The Haldane Society echoes the grave concerns shown by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights for the safety of Selçuk Kozağaçlı whilst he remains detained. It is the Society’s understanding that Selcuk is now on hunger strike, although he is still accepting sugar and water. He has declared that if his transfer to court takes more than four days, he will no longer accept sugar and water.

The Haldane Society further notes from that Selçuk Kozağaçlı is one of 17 attorneys arrested in the last two months who has been involved in representing Semih Özakça and Nuriye Gülmen in a case before the European Court of Human Rights (ApplicationNumbers: 46171/17, 45940/17).

The Haldane Society demands the immediate release of Selçuk Kozağaçlı and reiterates its call made on 14 January 2017, that the Turkish government ‘respects the professional work and role of lawyers, and complies in particular with Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as Art. 16 and 18 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Jobstown Not Guilty: Stand Up for the Right to Protest

In Ireland, on 24 April 2017, 18 protesters against water charges are due to stand trial for 'false imprisonment.' This is a political attack on the left in Ireland and the right to protest.

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers have organised this picket in solidarity with those who are standing trial. Join us at the Irish Embassy on the first day of trial, 24 April 2017, to stand up against the oppression being meted out by the Irish state.

The Jobstown Not Guilty campaign have produced a pamphlet about the trial.  Download the pamphlet or read it below.

Solidarity with ‘Legal Community Strikes Back on #F17

Lawyers, law students and legal workers will assemble outside Courts in cities across the U.S at 1pm (ET) today, February 17th, in a strike action called by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) as part of the #F17 General Strike against the Trump administration. As NLG President Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan states:

“We are facing unprecedented attacks on our most fundamental human rights and are seeing the unfolding of authoritarianism before our eyes. The legal community has no choice but to show up, to defend our communities and to fight back by holding our institutions accountable.”

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers stands in solidarity with this strike action and support the vital resistance of our comrades in the U.S.

In the space of only four weeks since Donald Trump took office, his regime has issued a series of executive orders that constitute calculated attacks on the rights of muslims, women, people of colour, LBGTQ folk, indigenous communities, the environment and working people.

When the media attempts to hold him to account, Trump dismisses truth as “alternative facts”. When recent legal challenges succeeded in blocking his ‘Muslim ban’, the President dismissed the role of the judiciary via Twitter, saying:

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

Such comments, along with an authoritarian taste for executive orders, reveal the Trump administration's utter disregard for the rule of law and democratic processes. In this context, we believe the legal community has an important role to play in the necessary fightback.

  • By acting as an institutional check on executive power. Taking resistance through the courts, as in the case of challenges to the ‘Muslim ban’. Upholding constitutionally enshrined human rights and civil liberties – of due process, non-discrimination, protections against arbitrary detention and deportation, defending activists and whistleblowers.
  • By showing up. The past month has seen an extraordinary mobilisation of activists taking direct action on the streets, in airports, university campuses and schools across the U.S.  The pro bono lawyers who showed up to airports in the immediate aftermath of the ‘Muslim ban’ – working around the clock to file habeas corpus petitions and intervene in coercive attempts to get people to sign away their rights – show how vital direct legal action on the ground is.
  • By refusing to legitimise. As socialist lawyers we recognise how the legal system can function to confer legitimacy on policies – which is to say ideologies – both instrumentally and rhetorically. We note the danger of any attempt to adopt this ‘business as usual’ approach to Trump’s white supremacist nationalistic agenda. Instead of conferring legitimacy, the legal community must lend our understanding of, and proximity to, the institutions of state power to intervene in its present violence.

As our comrades in the U.S are demonstrating today, the legal community can strike back against the far right and lend its power to resistance. Solidarity to #LawStrikesBack from across the Atlantic.

Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Solidarity with Lawyers in Egypt and China

Solidarity with Egyptian Lawyers!

On 24 January 2017 members of the Haldane Society gathered at the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in London to protest against the treatment of lawyers by the Egyptian regime.  Our European affiliates in the ELDH have prepared a report on the situation for Egyptian lawyers which makes for grim reading.

Solidarity with Chinese Lawyers!

Lawyers not just in Egypt but around the world face continue to face persecution for doing their jobs.  Concern has particularly been expressed recently regarding the treatment of Chinese Lawyers.  The Haldane Society has released the following statement:

"On the Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2017, the Haldane Society for Socialist Lawyers expresses solidarity with lawyers in the People’s Republic of China and condemns all state intimidation, violence and detention Chinese legal practitioners are subject to.
In the summer of 2015 over 300 human rights lawyers, legal assistants and activists were detained, interrogated and imprisoned in what became known as the ‘709 Crackdown’, following the first arrest of Human Rights Lawyer Wang Yu on the 9th July. A number of those detained during this wave of repression remain in prison, charged with “subversion” and “inciting subversion”. Some have reported torture. Other lawyers detained during the 709 Crackdown have been released but banned from leaving the country.
As Socialist Lawyers, the Haldane Society stands against all forms of state violence and intimidation. Lawyers in China must be empowered to undertake their professional duties free from executive judicial intervention; free from state harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention and imprisonment."

Solidarity with our Turkish comrades

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, alongside our comrades across Europe, condemn the Turkish Minister of Interior’s ban on the Progressive Lawyers Association (CHD) and offer our solidarity to the Turkish lawyers in their fight for human rights and justice under the present Turkish regime.

The Haldane Society echoes the demand of the ELDH and EDL that the Turkish government respects the professional work and role of lawyers, and complies in particular with Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as Art. 16 and 18 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

We have reproduced below the press release of our European affiliates ELDH and EDL:

On Friday 11th November the Turkish Minister of Interior, announced a three month ban of all activities of the Progressive Lawyers Association (CHD), an organisation affiliated with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Freedom Lawyers Association (ÖHD). Both are also affiliated to the European Association for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH).  The ban is based on art. 11 of the emergency laws.

The Minister is justifying this ban by referring to activities of our Turkish colleagues as a “threat to national security”. The offices of CHD and ÖHD have been sealed.

CHD was founded in 1974 and has 11 branches and more than 3000 members. CHD is presently conducting a campaign against torture in Turkey, an inhumane practice that increased significantly after the attempted coup of July 15 2016 and the intensification of the war against the Kurdish autonomist movement.

This unjustified attack against CHD and ÖHD is a flagrant violation of the freedom of association, the rights of human rights defenders, and the right of arrestees to an effective defence.

We, democratic lawyers and human rights defenders who are participating in the international conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations covenants on human rights, vigorously condemn this new attack of the Erdogan administration against its opponents.

We demand that these attacks against lawyers critical of government policies cease immediately, and that the state of emergency be ended forthwith. This governmental action is a pretext for massive violations of the fundamental rights of the Turkish people and their legal representatives.