Protest against forced deportations
SYDNEY — More than 30 members and supporters of the Burmese community protested outside the Thai consul general's office on December 2 to call for an immediate halt to the forced deportation of Burmese workers from Thailand and for a review of the Thai government's "constructive engagement" with the Burmese regime.
More than 60,000 Burmese workers have so far been forced from Thailand back to Burma. When the deportations began in early November, Burmese soldiers fired shots to prevent the repatriation. Those forced across the border have been subjected to murder, rape, torture and forced labour by the Burmese military.
The protest, organised by the Free Burma Action Committee, also demanded an end to the repression of Burmese refugees by the Thai authorities.
Amnesty's 'no impunity' week
CANBERRA — Amnesty International has declared December 3-10 "No impunity week". Demanding "Truth and justice for East Timor", it is calling on the Australian government to support the United Nations Human Rights Commission's inquiry into East Timor by releasing its intelligence and providing forensic assistance.
Kate Gilmore, Amnesty's national director, will meet Alexander Downer on December 6 to present him with tens of thousands of petitions demanding an end to impunity for those who have killed, raped and tortured. A rally at federal Parliament House has also been called to support these demands.
'Stop land clearing'
BRISBANE — About 50 people protested outside Parliament House on December 1 to demand a three-month interim ban on land clearing. The protest was in response to the Labor state government's failure to act on its election promise to control clearing on private land, allowing landowners to carry out large-scale "panic" clearing.
Drew Hutton from the Queensland Greens pointed out that Queensland has the highest rate of land clearing in the Western world, contributing to a very high level of greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction.
Protesters threatened to boycott the beef and sugar industries, which are responsible for much of the clearing, until controls are in place.
Art for East Timor
NEWCASTLE — An Artists for East Timor art sale here will be opened at 3pm on Sunday, December 19, by Sister Carmel Hanson. The exhibition will hang at the View Factory, corner of Scott and Telford Streets, Newcastle East, December 15-19. Works will be priced up to $250 or will be sold by silent auction.
An exhibition organiser, Blair Charlton, said that Artists for East Timor look forward to continuing joint work with Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor. "The great response to our call for artists to donate works shows that the artistic community can be activated around issues such as East Timor. The recent 'art attack' we held here, where we drew a huge mural calling for a 'People's Inquiry' into Australia's complicity in the East Timor genocide, was also a good example of the sort of initiative we can carry out."