Asia

On Monday 9 May, dramatic events rocked Sri Lanka. After months of economic turmoil, and weeks of mass mobilisations on the streets, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa made a desperate gamble to establish order and save his own political skin. But his brutal crackdown backfired in dramatic style. By nightfall, Mahinda was hiding in a naval base, whilst dozens of MPs’ residences were in flames. By the end of the day, eight people were dead including one MP and two police officers, and the hospitals were flooded with the injured.

On 25 February 1986, the infamously corrupt and brutal dictator of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, fled the country with his family from a revolutionary mass revolt. Yet on 9 May 2022, another Ferdinand Marcos was voted in as president: the son of the senior Marcos also known as “Bongbong.”

Not long ago, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime was proudly flaunting its successes in containing the COVID-19 pandemic compared to much of the rest of the world. Now, however, one of its major economic centres, Shanghai, is suffering from a surge of the Omicron variant, made worse by bureaucratic blunders.

A month has now passed since nationwide anger erupted in Sri Lanka, leaving the ruling class shell-shocked. The movement has shown remarkable resilience. Neither monsoon rains, nor the Sinhala Tamil New Year festivities, nor the shenanigans of a government that knows every dirty trick in the book have succeeded in defusing the rage of the masses. And yet, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa remains stubbornly entrenched in power, mocking the masses by his presence.

In Pakistan, the government has changed but the political crisis continues, reflecting a deep economic and social crisis. Imran Khan has been ousted. The cracks within the ruling class are widening and the fighting among various factions of the state has now reached levels never seen before, with each side attacking the other publicly and on social media.

The most spectacular struggle of the Sri Lankan people since the 1953 Hartal is presently unfolding. The power of this struggle has forced the resignation of the cabinet. The government’s allies had declared their ‘independence’ in parliament. Meanwhile, Cabraal, the governor of the central bank, has resigned.

A political and constitutional crisis has opened up in Pakistan, leading to a back and forth over a no-confidence vote in the Imran Khan government. In reality, these fissures at the top are merely symptoms of a deeper rot in Pakistani capitalism, which has been rocked by the global capitalist crisis, while the ruling class endures the consequences of attempting to play different imperialist blocs off of one another. Such pathetic charades will never end while the capitalist system stands!

The fifth (and by far the most serious) wave of COVID-19 infections began in December 2021 in Hong Kong. It rapidly increased up until the end of January 2022, and thereafter cases and deaths continued to climb. By 3 March, daily infections had reached over 76,000 (over 1 percent of Hong Kong’s population) – a peak in Hong Kong since the pandemic began.

The deep economic crisis in Sri Lanka, which has entered an acute phase in the first months of this year, has resulted in the eruption of mass, spontaneous protests. The masses cannot take any more. More protests are planned across the country, at which the comrades of the Marxist tendency, Forward, will be distributing leaflets in Sinhalese and Tamil. We publish an English-language statement below, which that leaflet is based upon.

Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of the worst economic crisis in its recent history, which yesterday led to protests right outside the President’s residence, and curfews across Colombo, the capital. The country faces bankruptcy. The masses are being tortured by spiralling prices, 13-hour long blackouts, and a lack of basic medicines, cooking gas and food. What is happening in Sri Lanka is not unique to that country. It is only an acute expression of the worldwide crisis of capitalism, that is crushing poorer nations. The sort of social unrest we are seeing in Sri Lanka, we can expect to see all around the world in the period to come.

Today and tomorrow, workers across India will take part in a general strike, which the trade union leaders anticipate could involve over 200 million people. Demands include improved conditions and wages for workers, farmers and the poor; universal social security cover for informal workers; a halt to privatisations; and the scrapping of reactionary new labour laws.

In the past few years, Vietnam has been battered by severe storms, the effects of which continue to be felt and are compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These extreme weather conditions are a global phenomenon, as demonstrated by super-storms around the world; tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and Southern USA; and massive sandstorms in China and Mongolia in late 2021. At root, the climate change which is to blame for these disasters is caused by the rapacious capitalist exploitation of the planet.