Under the auspices of a Preparatory Committee for the celebration, formed by representatives of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the New Communist Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the Society for Friendship with Korea and others, a meeting was held on Saturday 14 February 2006 at Saklatvala Hall in Southall, west London, on the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the birth of Korean leader, Comrade Kim Jong Il, to celebrate the continuing successes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in preserving its sovereignty notwithstanding frenzied attempts by imperialism to force it to bend the knee, give up socialism and give up the social and cultural gains that had been made by Korean people since the foundation of their independent Korean state.
The meeting started with the showing of a film documenting exactly what these gains have been. Not only is everybody guaranteed work, and a good home to live in, but in addition there is every educational opportunity to develop one’s talents and interests to the full, besides free medical assistance, etc. In fighting to defend their country, the Korean people are not fighting to preserve an abstract ideal but the reality of their right to lead fulfilling and dignified lives and bring up their children to do so also in the ways that give greatest expression to their natural talents and inclinations.
The meeting was honoured by the presence of an attaché from the Embassy of the DPRK in London, Comrade Thae, who made a short speech and accepted a floral tribute in honour of this auspicious occasion. Introducing Comrade Thae, the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, comrade Harpal Brar, drew attention to the happy life of the Korean people as had been demonstrated in the film, which showed why the Korean people were prepared to make tremendous sacrifices to defend their motherland. Their courage and determination were the reason why a country no larger than Wales with a population of a mere 25 million was able to stand proud even though all the forces of reaction would like to extinguish it, especially since the collapse of socialism in the former Soviet Union and the eastern European countries. Comrade Brar stressed that under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea and its leader, Comrade Kim Jong Il, the Korean people have made sure they have the means to defend themselves, which is why they have not met the same fate as Iraq. North Korea has the means, including nuclear weapons, to make sure that it is not invaded, which is why it is able to continue to hold the banner of Juche, the banner of Marxism-Leninism, proudly aloft.
Comrade Thae drew the attention of the meeting to the anti-communist legislation being passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as well as by the governments of certain European countries, such as the Czech Republic. He noted that efforts were being made to stigmatise the ideology and movement of communism while closing people’s eyes to the restoration of Hitlerite symbols and demands for the impunity of former war criminals. The resolution put forward at the Council of Europe calling for international condemnation of the ‘crimes’ of communist regimes, totally negates the decisive role of all communists in fighting Nazism, and ignores all the welfare and achievements made by all the socialist countries, including the DPRK. At a time when the world imperialist forces, including the USA, were waging fascist wars of aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to stifle national liberation struggles from Palestine to Colombia, and were mounting an intensified campaign to destroy the DPRK and other socialist countries, it is necessary for communists to unite. This is why the Korean communists give priority to single-minded unity behind their leader, Comrade Kim Jong Il. His leadership is a great good fortune for the Korean people, as he has strengthened the Workers’ Party of Korea, enabling it effectively to lead the DPRK as a powerful revolutionary regime based on Songun politics. We Korean communists will achieve the historic cause of national reunification at any cost. The US administration has disclosed its real intention to escalate its policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK. If US imperialism is as foolish as to commit aggression against Korea, the Korean people will deal merciless crushing blows against it until final victory. Comrade Thae concluded by remarking that the massive presence of comrades and friends at the meeting showed that socialism and communism were still very much alive.
Michael Chant, Secretary to the Central Committee of the RCPB(ML) stated that he was honoured to be able to honour and mark the place of the DPRK in the anti-imperialist struggle. Imperialism has developed a whole programme to undermine the sovereignty of all progressive countries, especially the DPRK, basing itself on (a) the nuclear issue and (b) the human rights issue. It claims the right to make pre-emptive strikes in the name of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the defence of human rights. We must condemn these propaganda attacks of neo-liberalism against the DPRK and the ploys they use to claim the right to attack people’s sovereignty. There can be no higher human right than the right exercised by the people of the DPRK to manage their own affairs for the benefit of their people – yet this human right is denied by imperialism. This meeting, continued Comrade Chant, is not just an expression of solidarity with the DPRK but also of the common cause of the people in defeating this man-eating imperialist system and enabling people to control what they produce. He stressed the importance of strengthening unity against imperialism and to march shoulder to shoulder with the Korean people to establish a better world.
Comrade Andy Brooks, General Secretary of the New Communist Party, referred among other things to the fact that Kim Il Sung had led the people to victory in the struggle against Japanese colonialism and subsequently against the US-led coalition of imperialist powers which had in vain tried to wipe out the DPRK in the Korean War of 1950-53. Under his leadership the democratic northern part of Korea had been transformed into a modern industrial socialist republic, while the south remained under the heel of US imperialism. With Kim Il Sung at the helm, the DPRK had championed the rights of the struggling people from every continent in breaking the chains of colonialism and gave material assistance to all those struggling for independence and socialism. With Kim Jong Il at the helm, continued Comrade Brooks, the march continued. “Expect no change” from me has been his pledge to the Korean people and the world communist movement, a pledge he has kept to this day. He has led the Workers Party and the government of the DPRK during the difficult times of the late 1990’s when the masses were mobilised to deal with unprecedented natural disasters. He rallied the party and people, calling on them to remain steadfast during the emergency which the US imperialists were trying to exploit, shattering the diplomatic and economic blockade of north Korea and forcing the Americans to come to the negotiating table in Beijing.
Comrade Dermot Hudson, Vice President of the Society for Friendship with Korea, spoke in detail about the Songun policy, while John MacLeod, from the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labour Party, endorsed the fact that because the DPRK has a nuclear deterrent it is not attacked. Other small countries threatened by imperialism need to learn from the DPRK, he said.
Comrade Keith Bennett reviewed the history of the Korean revolution and noted that over the years there has scarcely been a significant anti-imperialist movement – from Cuba to Vietnam, from Zimbabwe to Western Sahara, from Palestine to Ireland – that has not enjoyed the support of the DPRK. He said that the new round of acute confrontation between the DPRK and US imperialism that began in the early 1990’s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and continues today is as much about US imperialism’s desire to reverse the fundamental upset to imperialist hegemony represented by the victory of the Chinese revolution as it was in 1950. The DPRK rose to the challenge, withstanding an intensified blockade and threats from US imperialism and their toadies in the ruling circles of Britain and Japan. It continued to maintain its principled stand throughout setbacks suffered – the loss of Comrade Kim Il Sung and the unprecedented series of natural disasters. Faced with the kind of pressures that Korea faced in the 1990s almost any other country would have gone under. But thanks to the Arduous March and Songun policy, the DPRK not only survived but further consolidated its power in self defence, diplomacy, economy and ideology and in particular successfully developed a powerful independent self-defensive nuclear deterrent. These are the achievements of the steel-like, determined, visionary leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Il, which is why we come together to celebrate his birthday. Thanks to his firm stand, and the unity of the heroic Korean people round him, US imperialism is pinned down on its eastern front in Asia, without even a shot being fired, just as it is pinned down in the west of Asia by the heroic Iraqi resistance and increasingly by the renewed vigour of the Palestinian and Iranian people’s resistance as well.
Comrade Zane Carpenter of the CPGB(ML) referred to the lying anti-communist propaganda to be seen on our television screens, stating that the reason for it was that the British bourgeoisie was most anxious to prevent British workers striving to secure a society for themselves similar to that of the DPRK. Especially over the last 20 years, as the contradictions of imperialism become sharper and cause more of the burden of that failing system to be unloaded on the working class, our imperialist masters are growing fearful once more of that spectre, communism. It does not terrify the imperialists that the DPRK should have nuclear weapons, as it knows that these would never be used aggressively by a communist state. What they are terrified of is the example of the working class in power, and the inspiration this gives to the oppressed and downtrodden the world over to resist imperialism’s threats and the living proof offered by the DPRK and other socialist states that there can be a better world. This is why we are here today to work with anyone who will work for the defence of the DPRK, to teach the masses to cherish and support the DPRK in the course of the recognition of the need to overthrow imperialism here and to create our own socialist society.
The meeting generated a strong feeling of optimism among all the participants and the organisers were urged to keep up the work of inspiring the working class to support the DPRK and the Korean people, responding positively to the call for all those who support Korea to continue to maintain their unity for this purpose.
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