Magsaysay Award
Dear Sandeep Pandey
Please accept my congratulations on your honest decision to return the cash component of the Magsaysay Award in 2002, and your present decision to return the Award itself too, in protest against the US role in supporting Israel in its genocide in Gaza–since two US bodies, the Rockfeller Foundation and Ford Foundation fund the Magsaysay Foundation, thus enabling it to offer the cash component along with the award to recipients.

But I wish you take a look further back at the life of the historical figure himself in whose name the Philippines- based institution operates–Ramon Magsaysay. If you probe into history, you may find to your shock that he spent a large part of his career presiding over a programme of ruthless killing of poor Filipino peasant protestors in 1953. He was then the Secretary of Defence under President ElpidioQuirino, and was entrusted with the task of suppressing the Hukbalahap rebellion led by the Communist Luis Taruk, who demanded peasants' rights to their lands. Not surprisingly, after he became the President in late 1953, his past anti-Communist record drew appreciation from the US which became his patron, pouring aid to develop the war-torn economy of the Philippines. Magsaysay remained a loyal and subservient ally of the US all through the Cold War years, which explains the US-funded institution of the award in his name after his death.

Given this political background of Magsaysay, should socialist and liberal humanist intellectuals accept an award named after him, and funded by his US patrons? Shouldn't they denounce Magsaysay himself while rejecting the award?
Sumanta Banerjee, Hyderabad

Alexei Navalny is Dead
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died on February 16 after collapsing and losing consciousness at the penal colony north of the Arctic Circle where he was serving a long jail term.

Navalny, by far Russia's most popular opposition leader, was a lawyer by profession and rose to prominence more than a decade ago by lampooning the elite class round President Vladimir Putin and voicing allegations of corruption on a vast scale. He was 47. To his supporters he was Nelson Mandela of Russia.

Navalny earned admiration from Russia's disparate opposition for voluntarily returning to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been treated for what Western laboratory tests showed was an attempt to poison him with a nerve agent.

Navalny said at the time that he was poisoned in Siberia in August 2020. The Kremlin denied trying to kill him and said there was no evidence he was poisoned with a nerve agent. In truth the Kremlin suggested Navalny who spent some time as a scholar at Yale University, was a CIA stooge and troublemaker out to topple the government and turn Moscow into a pliant US vassal state. Ideologically he was close to European far right, advocating anti-immigration policy.

Almost all American and western leaders including Ukraine’s Zelensky blamed it on Putin for his death. America and its western allies have long been trying to isolate Russia in view of the on-going Ukraine war and Navalny’s death in prison is a new weapon in their hands to mobilise public opinion against Russia across the world.

After meeting him in prison on 12th February his mother Lyudmila Navalnaya wrote on Facebook ‘he was alive, healthy and happy’.
A Reader

Proletarian Internationalism
The Water Transport Workers Federation of India representing more than 3500 workers at the 11 Major Ports in the country has decided to refuse to load or unload weaponised cargoes from Israel or any other country which could handle military equipments and its allied cargo for war in Palestine.

We, the Port workers, part of labour unions would always stand against the t war and killing innocent people like women and children. The recent attack of Israel on Gaza plunging thousands of Palestinians into immense suffering and loss. Women and children have been blown to pieces in the war. Parents were unable to recognise their children killed in bombings which were exploding everywhere.

At this juncture our Union members have collectively decided to refuse handling all types of weaponised cargoes. Loading and unloading these weapons helps provide organisations with the ability to kill innocent people.
Therefore, we, the Indian Port & Dock Workers from various Major Ports active in the ground of Cargo handling sector, call on our members to no longer handle any ships which carry military material to Palestine/Israel.

We, therefore, also call for an immediate ceasefire. As the responsible trade unions, we declare our solidarity with those who campaign for peace. We call upon the workers of the world and peace-loving people to stand with the demand of free Palestine.
T Narendra Rao
General Secretary
Water Transport Workers
Federation of India

CITF 2024
The Colombo International Theatre Festival (CITF) which started in 2012, is approaching its successive 10th edition. CITF 2024 will feature Mono Dramas from across the globe, formal and informal interactions between artists from Sri Lanka and abroad, towards a sustained effort in curating a festival with a purpose of bringing innovative performances to Sri Lanka.

Over 70 countries covering all continents, 100 theatre groups and over 1000 artists and veterans have participated during the previous 09 years including Sri Lankan theatre fraternity.It is a stable and recognised festival. It is an International Theatre Festival.

Interact Art Theatre Institute is a small-scale theatre company. But the difference it has made over the years is not small.

The Colombo International Theatre Festival will be organised as an International Monodrama competitive festival in this year too.

Short Play Category–For South Asia Region only. Maximum duration is 15 minutes.

Long Play Category–Any theater group from around the world could participate. Minimum duration is 45 minutes to maximum 60 minutes.

The organisers will cover the local hospitality of the group & up to 4 members during the festival, and provide the meals, accommodation, performance venue, local transport and publicity.

The other expenses shall be borne by the participating group, including their travel to Sri Lanka and back visa if applicable and insurance, etc.

Theatre enthusiasts are ready for the new year with new hopes for the 2024 Theatre Festival... in August.
Closing Date 10th March 2024.

Any further clarification, feel free to contact us on email interactartsl@, Application Link–
M Safeer
Festival Director
Prasad Wikramarathna
Festival Secretary
Colombo International Theatre Festival (CITF)

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Vol 56, No. 36, Mar 3 - 9, 2024