The Committee for a Workers’ International has expressed its support for the mass protest on 10 September against the Orissa State backed land grab by South Korean steel conglomerate, POSCO.
POSCO workers’ protest
The Committee for a Workers’ International, with affiliated groups and parties in forty countries, condemns the vicious attempts by POSCO Iron and Steel to force 30,000 people in the Jagatsinghpur District of Orissa from their homes. This giant South Korean capitalist conglomerate wants to set up a steelworks and a port on their land to maximize their already substantial profits.
We congratulate the people of the area who have been valiantly resisting for the last four years. We wish to express our deepest concern and anger and pledge to publicise this scandal as widely as possible amongst trade unionists, socialists and community workers internationally.
We understand that the $US12 billion project, being aggressively promoted by both the Orissa and Indian governments, threatens the livelihood of thousands of agriculturists, workers and small businesses in the area, as well as threatening to devastate the local environment and ecology.
In the course of their peaceful and democratic non-violent struggle to prevent their lands from being forcibly acquired by POSCO, the campaigners have been brutally attacked by paid goons of the company and subjected to gruelling economic blockades by the local administration. Several of their leaders have been put behind bars. False charges have been foisted on over 150 activists, both men and women.
As a result of all this there is now a grave medical emergency developing in the Erasama and Kujanga blocks of Jagatsinghpur district - the sites of the proposed land acquisition for the POSCO steel plant. There are dozens of activists who have fractured limbs due to violence by the company’s hired musclemen, some of which include injuries from bomb attacks. They need orthopaedic help and in some cases possibly even surgical intervention.
Some women in the area are in the late stages of pregnancy but unable to leave the area to get the medical care they need because of the fear of harassment and even arrest by the local police. Many other women have developed a range of gynecological problems that need urgent medical attention.
There is severe malnutrition among children, owing to the lack of income over the past few years as many local people have not been able to pursue their normal livelihoods because of the turmoil in the area. The general population of the affected villages also needs help in combating malaria which is endemic to the area. There are also patients suffering from paralysis who need medical care. All these patients cannot go out and receive treatment because of the threat of arrests.
We therefore support the struggle of the people of Jagatsinghpur and send international solidarity for the day of action on September 10 at Balitutha, the entrance point of the proposed POSCO complex area. We understand that many leaders of different anti-displacement struggles will address the gathering. We, as socialists, believe the battle against gross social injustices like these needs to be linked to the building of the broader class struggle against capitalists, land-owners and their political representatives. A new party of the working class with genuinely socialist policies is on the order of the day.