SWL Salutes SEK/KEERFA’s Support In Greece for the EndSARS Revolt

Statement to the 8th November 2020 KEERFA Conference with the theme: The fight against the New Democracy government and the Fight for Socialism

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#EndSARS protest in front of the Nigerian embassy in Athens on 26th October, supported by KEERFA

The Socialist Workers & Youth League heartily extends solidarity greetings to the Socialist Workers Party. We seize this moment to express our appreciation of the comrades of SEK and KEERFA for the support given to the #EndSARS manifestation in Athens on 26 October.

Unrepentant commitment to the struggle against police brutality and ultimately against the capitalism is something SWL and SEK have in common. The bosses cannot conveniently exploit working-class people without the state. And the police with its inherent brutality is at the heart of the capitalist state.

As International Socialists we march forward together, until capitalism is defeated, and working-class people together build a new and better world.

Tens of thousands of youths took over the streets in Nigeria for 13 days in October to protest police brutality. Organised as #EndSARS, they called for dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

SARS was notorious for brutalisation people and torture. They also carried out extra-judicial killings with impunity.

The spark for the protests was the killing of a young man on 3rd October. But there were deeper roots for the mass anger generated.

Life has become exceedingly hard for most Nigerians. The country has the largest number of people living in poverty. 105 million of its 214 million population live below the poverty line. Youths are hardest hit. One out of every two youth is unemployed.

The trade unions are powerful. They have organised a dozen general strikes in the 21st century. But they also have a history of rotten compromises. They demonstrated this when they called of a general strike against rise in gasoline and electricity tariffs prices planned for 28 September at the last minute.

Against this background, protesting #EndSARS youths described the rebellion as “leaderless” to avoid “leaders” that could sell out like the union bureaucracy sold out the working masses. Another reason was that some of the celebrities and liberal professional middle-class figures active in the movement, especially through twitter, wanted to avoid dominance of revolutionary politics in the protests.

Most sections of the Left were caught unawares and remained largely out of the protests for over a week. Only the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) was neck deep in the revolt. CORE was formed last year with Socialist Workers & Youth League (SWL) playing a leading role. It has organised several nationwide protests around its RevolutionNow campaign.

Liberals in EndSARS tried to limit the demands of the movement to anti-police brutality. But CORE activists insisted on slogans such as #EndInjustice and “Down with the regime”. These became popular demands in the second week of the protest. To stop the rebellion transforming into a revolution, soldiers were deployed to repress the movement, killing at least 36 people on 20th October.

But this led only spurred violence. 205 police stations were burnt, and 22 policemen killed. Government gave some tokenist concessions like funding to improve youth employment.

CORE and SWL continue to stress the systemic connections between capitalist exploitation and police brutality with political education and protests including earlier today, and the centrality of working-class emancipatory struggle for revolutionary change.

by Baba AYE

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