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Letters to the editor

August 9, 2002 | Page 4

Farmers' revolt in Mexico
Sharon is the real terrorist
"Hate speech" laws don't take on racism

Nothing free about Kashmir elections

Dear Socialist Worker,

The Indian government recently tried to bolster its "secular" and "democratic" credentials by announcing that it will hold elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir later this year. But its repeated insistence that the coming elections will be "free and fair" reeks of hypocrisy.

The Indian military has held this state by force for more than 50 years. The resistance of the people of Kashmir to this military occupation has been met with overwhelming military and paramilitary force.

The fascist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) recently announced that it will contest in the elections under the banner of the Jammu and Kashmir National Democratic Front.

While the ruling Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, has given a free hand to the RSS goons, they have cracked down on secular and pro-independence organizations in Kashmir. Soon after announcing the election schedule, they arrested Yasin Malik, chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, under the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act. And on July 20, police arrested Malik's replacement, Javed Mir, along with several other leaders of pro-independence organizations.

With these groups effectively out of the fray, the "free and fair" election later this year thus promises to be a contest between a fascist-dominated organization on the one hand, and the National Conference, which is little more than a stooge of the Indian government, on the other.

Ordinary Kashmiris will once again end up with another rigged election, with stuffed ballot boxes and fraudulent results.

Ganesh Lal, Greensboro, N.C.

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Farmers' revolt in Mexico

Dear Socialist Worker,

Anger continues to brew in Mexico following the armed takeover of a town near Mexico City in July by farmers protesting the government's plan to build a new airport on their land.

Protests began months ago when Mexico's President Vincente Fox announced the proposal, which would force farmers from San Salvador Atenco to sell their land for a pittance. On July 11, the demonstrations exploded into an armed rebellion after riot police attacked roadblocks in nearby Santa Catarina.

Soon, hundreds of farmers emerged, scarves tied around their faces and armed with machetes and Molotov cocktails. They took 11 hostages, mostly government officials. Police surrounded the town, but couldn't enter because rebels had built barricades and were patrolling the area.

The farmers ended their blockade after four days when the government offered negotiations. But many say they won't give up their land at any price. "We've been on this land all our lives. It doesn't have a price," one machete-wielding woman from San Salvador Atenco told a reporter.

This is reminiscent in some ways of the 1990s Zapatista uprising in the state of Chiapas. The government knows it has to negotiate with these popular movements, although it would rather crush them while nobody's looking.

Strikes and demonstrations have been rare in Mexico over the past few years. But for left-wingers that mobilized all over the country for rallies during the uprising, San Salvador Atenco is an important lesson in militancy.

Chuck Stemke, San Diego

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Sharon is the real terrorist

Dear Socialist Worker,

I would like to thank you for your honest article "Ariel Sharon: This man is the real terrorist" (SW, April 12). It shows how much the Palestinians suffer from this terrorist.

To start with, Sharon has contributed to the suffering of 1 million Palestinian refugees--in Sabra and Shatila, in the Qana refugee camp, and recently in the Jenin refugee camp. He has killed hundreds in endless incidents. Your article shows that Israel is the real cause of terrorism.

We must remember the 1956,1967 and 1982 wars in which Israel attacked Arab nations. Moreover, Sharon has added more settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip--making it almost impossible for Palestine to ever become a free country. This shows that Israel is a terrorist country.

To top it all off, Sharon has disrespected Muslim holy sites, such as the al-Aqsa mosque, which led to the recent Intifada.

Thank you again for your honesty and truth in writing your articles.

Loai Galal, Alexandria, Egypt

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"Hate speech" laws don't take on racism

Dear Socialist Worker,

This is in response to Eric Pelkey's letter about the ACLU defending the KKK's cross burning (SW, June 7) against a Virginia law. Instead of dealing with education, housing and poverty, Virginia had no problem passing a token law that has probably resulted in few convictions. Indeed, laws are already on the books that are sufficient to deal with cross burning.

This is not agreeing with the KKK's message--we should vigorously defeat racist speech with counter-speech and force of our own. However, a review shows that so-called "hate speech" statutes end up disproportionately convicting minorities for violations of such laws.

We should not be so quick to disagree with "liberal" groups like the ACLU who share a distrust of the government.

David Bliven, Oceanside, Calif.

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