Saklatvala Hall in Southall was the venue for a 31 July celebration of the Korean people’s great victory against US imperialism in the Fatherland Liberation War (known as the Korean War in the west) of 25 June 1950-27 July 1953, organised by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), CPGB(ML).
Around 80 comrades gathered to celebrate the courage and resilience of this small people, who had defied the full might of US imperialism and its allies and satellites, including British imperialism, and inflicted the first ever defeat on the post-World War II superpower, and to reaffirm their continued solidarity with the Korean people’s struggle to expel US imperialism from the peninsula and to reunify their homeland.
Guest of honour was Comrade Ja Song Nam, who was joined by all the officials of his embassy along with their wives, 10 comrades in all. Also present was a strong contingent from the Indian Workers’ Association (IWA GB), members of the local Indian community from in and around Southall and working people of many nationalities.
The meeting was preceded by a barbecue, supplemented by both Korean and Indian dishes, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all present.
The formal proceedings were opened by the CPGB(ML) Chairman, Comrade Harpal Brar. Analysing the present situation in Korea, Harpal noted that US imperialism is always engaged in rigging up incidents to keep tension high on the Korean peninsula, as otherwise they would have no excuse to keep occupying south Korea, presently with more than 38,000 troops. To this end, they had rigged up the Cheonan incident, attempting to blame the DPRK for the sinking of the south Korean naval vessel, which was either an accident, the result of incompetence, or a ‘false flag’ operation by the US itself.
Condemning the continued interference in the affairs of the Korean people by US imperialism and its stooges, Harpal said this was the only thing preventing the peaceful reunification of Korea. Referring to the wall of division erected across the Korean peninsula by the United States, he called on President Barack Obama to “tear down this wall”.
Harpal refuted the imperialist slander that the DPRK is isolated, noting its good relations with many dozens of countries around the world and especially its excellent relations with the People’s Republic of China, but apparently, for the United States and Britain, “1.3 billion people do not count”. However, the DPRK does not need the imprimatur of imperialist powers. Since the early revolutionary activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung, the country had stood tall in the anti-imperialist struggle and, despite many hard times, had gone from victory to victory.
Summarising the lessons of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War, Harpal first noted that it showed that even a small, weak people, without the advanced technology and limitless resources available to their adversaries, could win victory if they fight single-mindedly under a correct and determined leadership.
Secondly, he highlighted the importance of proletarian internationalism. At the time of the Korean War, the whole socialist camp had “sung from the same hymn sheet and from the same page”. The Chinese People’s Volunteers, the material help from the Soviet Union, the dauntless courage of the Korean people, north and south, and the active solidarity of the entire progressive humanity, had all contributed to achieving victory in the first war where a US general had to sign an armistice not as a victor.
Today, he continued, US imperialism is considerably weakened. It cannot even defeat the people of Afghanistan, let alone the DPRK. However, despite protestations to the contrary from some quarters, imperialism does not learn. It seeks domination not freedom and, so long as imperialism exists, nothing can change this. The United States would like to attack the DPRK again, but if it does so, it will be the beginning of the end for US imperialism.
The victory of the Korean people in the Fatherland Liberation War “had raised the Korean people to new heights. They are at the cutting edge of the struggle against imperialism.”
Referring to the recent apology made to the Irish people for Bloody Sunday by Prime Minister David Cameron, in the wake of the publication of the Saville Report, Harpal said that it was high time that the United States and Britain apologised to the Korean people for what had been done to them.
Comrade Harsev Bains brought greetings from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Indian Workers’ Association (GB). Recalling his own visit to Korea for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students in 1989, Harsev said that the DPRK spells anti-imperialism. To be anti-imperialist, you have to be in solidarity with the DPRK and Cuba.
Also speaking for the CPGB(ML), Comrade Keith Bennett said that the most important point was that the working class was in power in the DPRK and this was the type of society we aspired to in Britain. Although socialism in Britain would not be the same in every detail, as each country and people had their own traditions, culture and way of life, and differed in their level of economic development, the essential point was that the Korean people had achieved, and we are striving to create, a society where working people are in charge and this is why our friendship and solidarity are so important.
A deep-going social revolution had taken place in the north of Korea in the aftermath of World War II. This had done away with the capitalist and landlord classes and put at the top those who had suffered the most before liberation and those who had fought the hardest for the overthrow of the old society and the birth of the new.
We know that the Korean people still have many obstacles to overcome and face economic trials and difficulties in their daily lives. But whatever these difficulties, Keith continued, their huge achievements in building a new society in today’s world are second to none. It was important, too, to take account of the context in which these achievements had been made. Were it not for the sanctions, the threats of aggression, the partition of the country and the division of the people, then the Korean people today would surely enjoy a standard of living, second to none in the world. If the Korean people face difficulties in their economy and in their daily lives, then the blame lies 100 per cent with US imperialism and those who support it.
Following these remarks, Comrade Keith introduced a solidarity resolution from the meeting, which was adopted unanimously.
It reads in full as follows:
“This solidarity and celebration meeting organised by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) extends its militant greetings to the party, government, armed forces and people of Korea on the occasion of the 57th anniversary of their 27 July great victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.
“US imperialism and its allies, including British imperialism, mobilised huge forces against the fledgling Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and committed countless atrocities. The Korean people paid a terrible price for their victory. However, thanks to their heroic struggle, and with the active support of all anti-imperialist and progressive people in the world, in particular the Chinese People’s Volunteers and the Soviet Union, US imperialism was fought to a standstill, the infant DPRK was preserved, and the camp of socialism and people’s democracy was safeguarded.
“The lessons of the Korean people’s heroic struggle, and of their victory, retain great and essential validity, at a time when the struggle against imperialism, US imperialism in particular, remains the order of the day. It is in this spirit that we hold our meeting today. In standing with Korea, we stand with Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Nepal, the Philippines, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, and everywhere where the anti-imperialist struggle is being waged.
“In the decades following victory in the war, the Korean people, under the leadership of Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il, have, through hard struggle on the basis of self-reliance, succeeded in building a socialist state that is capable of weathering any storm or stress.
“Imperialism has not in any way lessened its hostility to the Korean people or to the Korean revolution. The country remains divided and south Korea remains occupied by US troops. Currently, the United States and its puppet regime in the south, on the pretext of the sinking of the Cheonan vessel, a tragic incident with which the DPRK has no connection, have mobilised some 20 warships, including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, 200 aircraft, including advanced F-22 fighters, and 8,000 military personnel for military exercises that pose a grave threat not only to the DPRK but also to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and to peace and security in the whole Asia-Pacific region.
“This meeting strongly condemns these provocative war rehearsals and fully supports the just stands of the DPRK and the PRC against them. At the same time, it notes that US imperialism has never come off the winner in any confrontation with the forces of communism in Asia, be it in China in 1949, in Korea in 1953, or in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in 1975, and, if it should dare provoke another war in the region, it may very well precipitate the final downfall of the blood-soaked imperialist system.
“Neither Korea nor China are the weak and backward countries that they were in 1950. On this occasion, we especially congratulate the Korean armed forces, party, government and people, who, by dint of enormous sacrifice, have maintained a necessary policy of ‘army first’, that has ensured that this tiny nation can face the might of US hegemony with its own independent nuclear deterrent for self-defence. In particular, 25 August this year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of Comrade Kim Jong Il’s ‘army first’, or ‘songun’ revolutionary leadership and this meeting sends him its revolutionary greetings.
“The defeat suffered by US imperialism in Korea shattered the myth of its invincibility and started the process of its inexorable decline, giving encouragement to revolutionary movements around the world. One such revolutionary movement, which has also fought its way to victory, is that of the heroic Cuban people. This meeting also sends its militant greetings and revolutionary solidarity to socialist Cuba on the 26 July anniversary of the start of its revolution, with the attack on the Moncada Barracks by revolutionary forces led by Comrade Fidel Castro.”
Following the adoption of the resolution, a brief cultural programme saw Mrs Sekhon give a spirited rendition of a revolutionary song in Urdu, following which comrades and friends continued their social programme of good food, drink and discussion for several more hours.
With the participation of 10 Korean comrades and British working class comrades with family origins from the four corners of the earth, the meeting was a veritable landmark both in developing principled and effective solidarity with the Korean people and, more generally, in rebuilding a true culture of proletarian internationalism in Britain.