Rear View

Afwerki’s boot

Socialists are not fools: we prefer the limited democracy to be found in some capitalist countries over dictatorship. The 99 percent suffer worldwide, but in some places more than others. ‘As huge numbers of Eritreans continue to flee the country, Isaias Afwerki’s regime is increasingly retaliating against their families. The government already demands payments from families whose children have escaped—50,000 nafkas (US$3,333) per child. Families who can’t pay are jailed. Now the government is demolishing houses and seizing property, too … Experts say Afwerki needs a constant supply of young people to maintain his police state. A June 2015 UN Commission on Inquiry report on Eritrea documented in detail the regime’s indefinite military conscription. The military has drafted children younger than 15, tortured its own members and engaged in the systematic sexual abuse of women. But despite the report’s conclusion of possible crimes against humanity—and an Eritrean government official’s recent admission to a Wall Street Journal reporter that the regime engages in torture—some countries and right-wing political parties in Europe are jostling to send a signal to Eritreans: Don’t come here anymore’ (, 2 December).

Daddy’s girl

If you want a vision of the future, wrote George Orwell, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever. Dictator’s daughter and current president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, is using the might of the state against tens of thousands protesting her increasingly authoritarian rule. Trade unionists, students and others object to her labour policies and desire to impose one version of history over others. She knows, like Orwell, that whoever controls the past controls the future, and her vision is one without the masses objecting to her rule. She has ‘equated the protesters—some of whom wear masks as protection from riot police—to terrorists’ and for good measure her Justice Minister Kim Hyun-Woong vowed to ‘uproot illegal and violent demonstration … no matter how much sacrifice is required’ (, 1 December).

Open platform

‘Maryam Namazie is the latest in a string of people to fall foul of university ‘safe space’ policies which attempt to keep controversial speakers off campus. In October, feminist activists attempted to cancel a talk by Germaine Greer at Cardiff University because of her belief that transgender women are not real women. Historian David Starkey was recently edited out of a Cambridge University fundraising video after students protested over his history of outspoken statements on race and gender’ ( 2 December). The Socialist Party has a proud history of open debate. We oppose these so-called ‘safe spaces’ for the same reasons we oppose censorship. Atheist? Cultural relativist? Conservative historian? Bring it on!

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