Strikes, soccer and sanctions: an interview with Mahmoud Sarsak

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Mahmoud Sarsak is a professional footballer who was arrested in 2009 and imprisoned in Israel for three years without charge. In April 2012 he joined the coordinated hunger strikes by Palestinian political prisoners. Riya Al'Sanah and Estelle Cooch interviewed him for Socialist Review.

Can you explain a bit about who you are and what you have been part of?

My name is Mahmoud Kemal Sarsak. I'm 26 years old and I was previously a player in the national Palestinian football team and I am now a released Palestinian prisoner. I was arrested on 22 July 2009 while travelling to join my new club at the time - Balata Youth in the West Bank. The Israeli secret services said they did not have enough evidence to send me to trial so I was held unlawfully for three years without charge.

Jerry Hicks - a rank and file challenge: now organise!

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Jerry Hicks stood as a rank and file candidate in the recent elections for the general secretary of Unite, the biggest union in Britain. He received 79,819 votes, 36 percent of the vote. Socialist Review spoke to Jerry about why he stood and the lessons of the campaign

Firstly, congratulations on the fantastic vote you received. Many people would see Len McCluskey as one of the most left wing trade union leaders in Britain at the moment, so why did you decide to stand against him?

The election was heading to be unopposed, not because everyone was in agreement with McCluskey, but because it had been manoeuvered to orchestrate this. The reason that it was pulled forward three years from the scheduled date was to spring it on people.

Strikes, independence and indignados

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Rafel Sanchis and Estelle Cooch spoke to David Fernández, an MP for the Catalan parliament, about the origins and politics of the anti-capitalist coalition, CUP, and its relationship to the wider movement

An important feature of the crisis in Europe has been the rise of radical left political formations in Greece, France and elsewhere. In last November's elections to the Catalan parliament, an anti-capitalist and pro-independence coalition, the CUP (Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, or Popular Unity Candidates), got three MPs elected.

The 2012 elections were the first time that the CUP has decided to run for Catalan parliamentary elections. Why was this?

Saying no to Zimbabwe's constitution

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Socialist Review spoke to Tafadzwa Choto of the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe about the significance of the recent referendum on a new constitution

Can you explain the background to the constitutional referendum? How far back does it go?

The constitutional question dates back to 15 years ago as Zimbabweans have been demanding a new democratic constitution to replace the 1979 Lancaster House constitution that was negotiated and ushered in at Zimbabwe's independence. Social, economic and political demonstrations by workers, students, peasants, women, war veterans and even by the middle classes, forced the Zanu PF government to accept the need for a new constitution.

Strike for your rights!

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Jack Farmer spoke to University of London cleaners about how they won the London Living Wage and union recognition by staging an unofficial strike

Cleaners are among the most badly treated and poorly paid workers in London. Many are immigrants from South America and a lack of fluent English often makes it all the more difficult to organise.

This is why the struggle of cleaners, porters and security guards at Senate House - part of the University of London - has been so remarkable. Over a number of years they've built a Unison union branch which includes over 100 outsourced workers, organised noisy public protests and a successful unofficial strike, winning the London Living Wage and union recognition.

Organising to resist

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The retreat by union leaders over the pensions struggle shaped last year. What are the prospects for a renewal of resistance in 2013? Socialist Review spoke to Michael Bradley, from the SWP's industrial office, about the prospects for strikes and how socialists in the unions should organise

2012 was dominated by the retreat over the pensions struggle. What do you think is the balance sheet of that experience and what lessons can we draw from it?

Boots Riley: The Coup and the revolution

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How did you become involved in music and politics?

Growing up in Chicago and then Detroit and Oakland, my family were all interested in radical organising, so I was a political organiser from the age of about 14 and 15. At that time my musical inspiration was Prince, when everyone else in my school was just interested in rap. Through political organising I began to see instances that showed me how music can be a rallying point in campaigns and movements.

You were active in Occupy Oakland - can you tell us what you learnt?

China's scattered migrants

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China's booming economy has been built on the back of migrant workers. Hsiao-Hung Pai talked to Sally Kincaid and Charlie Hore about her new book and the lives of China's migrant population

Why did you choose the title Scattered Sand for your book?

The idea of Scattered Sand came originally from Sun Yatsen, the founding father of the Guomindang (Nationalist) Party - so it came from the Republican Revolution of 1911. The idea was when he was talking about the Chinese people as being scattered sands - not united as a nation against Western imperialism.

Quebec: how we won

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After a six-month strike students in Quebec celebrated a victory last month when the new Parti Quebecois government announced it would reverse a planned tuition fees hike. The new government also repealed Bill 78, an emergency law introduced in May, aimed at restricting the right to protest. Aamna Mohdin and Jamie Woodcock spoke to Jérémie Bédard-Wien, a spokesperson for CLASSE, a radical student coalition that played a central role in the movement

“Half a million people marched through Montreal on 22 May - the largest ever act of civil disobedience in North America.”

Jérémie Bédard-Wien

There has been a history of student strikes in Quebec. What was the trigger for the 2012 student strike? And what was the inspiration?

South Africa after the Marikana massacre

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The killing by police of 34 striking platinum miners at Marikana echoed the worst massacres of the old apartheid era. Socialist Review spoke to Claire Ceruti, a South African socialist, about the strike, the implications for the workers' movement and tensions inside the ruling ANC party

The Marikana miners have won a pay increase of up to 22 percent. Can you say something about the significance of the strike and its outcome?

Even though it fell far short of the miners' original demand, the result of the strike was a victory for the power of self-organisation. The mine management was forced to negotiate directly with the miners and the rock drillers won a 2,000 rand increase (around £150), with other sections winning a bit less.


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