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   Vol. 69/No. 14           April 11, 2005  
Katyn massacre
I believe the Militant understated the scope and nature of crimes committed by the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Katyn Forest Massacre, which it calls “a massacre of Polish army officers” [Editorial, “The Truth About World War II,” March 28 Militant.]

This is the way it was originally described when the initial mass graves of 4,000 were discovered by the Nazis in 1943.

Subsequent revelations show the crime was much more far-reaching. As many as 22,000 Poles were shot on Stalin’s orders at Katyn. Many were prisoners of war. Only about 8,000 of 15,000 POWs were officers.

On March 5, 1940, Lavrenty Beria, head of Stalin’s secret police, signed an order to kill “nationalist and counterrevolutionary” activists kept in camps and prisons of the occupied Western parts of Ukraine and Belarus. This broad definition meant significant numbers from among the Polish intelligentsia were put to death, in addition to Polish cops, reservists, and active military officers.

Jay Ressler
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Truth commission
A judge in Spain (Baltasar Garzon) is trying to create a “truth commission” to investigate crimes against humanity committed during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. He also attempted to try former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Mr. Garzon should be commended, and judges in other former dictatorships should follow his lead.

I would like to see the creation of an American Truth Commission that would investigate and publicize the U.S. government’s support of dictators (Somoza, Batista, Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, the House of Saud, etc.) over the years. But it won’t happen because both the Democratic and Republican parties would be implicated.

Isn’t that a shame?

Chuck Mann
Greensboro, North Carolina

Irish struggle
I am writing from the British-occupied Six Counties of Ireland where there are more British troops stationed than in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Germany put together despite the now eight-year IRA cessation [of armed actions]. I have to thank you for your continued support for our struggle. There are few other international news outlets that treat our struggle with such fairness and honesty. I am glad that there is a revolutionary media telling the truth around the world.

Sinn Fein is under an intense attack from all elements of the Irish bourgeois establishment and their media. They are once again trying to besmirch Irish Republicans as criminals as they did at so many times in the past. It is a sign of the fragility of the Six County statelet that the British Government has been unable to re-establish local representative-democratic structures and have to maintain direct-rule through (foreign) British ministers.

One way to respond to these assaults is by ensuring that Sinn Fein obtains a bigger vote than in the past as an answer from the growing number of people who are demanding unity and change. More importantly, Republicans need to strategically reorient towards extra-parliamentary political work to build campaigns to answer their opponents. Political change will require social change.


Women and children
In the 20 some odd years that I’ve been reading the Militant I have never noticed any degrading remarks or references about or regarding women. In fact, in my opinion, it has been one of the finest examples of non-sexist publications, and indeed, a champion for women’s rights and equality.

For this reason I am both puzzled and disturbed by a paragraph included in the March 21 issue in an article by Sam Manuel about the Congo, which states, “Congolese officials in the area said that as many as 25 civilians were killed in the attack, including three children and several women who were burned to death” (emphasis added). It occurs to me that the Militant was likely paraphrasing Congolese officials or The London Telegraph, but it seems to me that singling women and children out as a special kind of civilian is problematic in a number of ways.

Children are smaller, weaker, and incapable of caring for themselves. The traditional grouping of women with children has been a common means of imposing these qualities on women. Second, the idea that it is somehow worse to kill female civilians arises from the belief that a woman’s child-bearing capacity requires that she be revered and protected from all harm. Finally, this particular statement has the added implication that women, and children for that matter, must be civilians.

To imply or assume that women must be civilians, that they should be considered only on an equal par with children, and that their lives are somehow more valuable than their male counterparts should be condemned.

Though it is my belief that this is not the viewpoint of the Militant or any of its writers or editors, I believe this kind of thoughtless error needed to be brought to your attention.

Laura Kamienski
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Reply from the editor
We thank the reader above for pointing out the pitfalls of copying the language of the big-business press.

Likewise, we take the opportunity to extend a belated but necessary thanks to reader Robin Maisel. In his letter to the editor titled “Two-class party?” published in the March 28 issue, Maisel pointed out the reasons why revolutionists don’t call for a “workers and farmers” party but for a proletarian party. We agree.  
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