Seattle should happen here
SYDNEY — The large protests against the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in December can and should be replicated in this country, more than 100 people at a Politics in the Pub forum on March 31 were told.
A meeting of the World Economic Forum, to be held in Melbourne in September, should be the target of nationwide protests against corporate greed, Pat Ranald of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre said. Manufacturing workers union secretary Doug Cameron and Reclaim the Streets spokesperson Paul Elliott also addressed the forum.
Action for Pakistan
ADELAIDE — Protesters called for an end to the crackdown by the Pakistani military government on March 28. Eighty signatures were collected on a petition during the action in the Rundle Mall, which was organised by the Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance.
The petition demanded the restoration of freedom of speech, assembly and political expression in Pakistan; an end to actions against the Labour Party Pakistan and its leaders; and an early date to be set for national elections.
Cuban condemns US policy
ADELAIDE — Many children die in the straits between Cuba and the US as a direct result of US's anti-Cuba immigration policy, a forum of 40 people was told last week. Eva Seaone, vice-president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, spoke of the case of six-year-old Elian, held in the US since his mother died crossing the strait in November.
Seaone condemned the hypocrisy of US immigration policy which grants immediate political asylum to any Cuban who arrives illegally, yet consistently refuses visas to those who apply legally, encouraging people to make the hazardous trip.
LISMORE — Thirty five people attended a Green Left Weekly Politics in the Pub session on March 31 to discuss "The return of legalised racism?".
Mick Martin, lecturer at Southern Cross University's College of Indigenous Australian People, spoke about the rapid rise in the incarceration of indigenous people resulting from mandatory sentencing laws in WA and the NT. Corinne Batt-Rawden from the Democratic Socialist Party addressed the connection between imprisonment policies and increasing government restrictions on refugees.
A further meeting to discuss action against mandatory sentencing will be held at the Lismore Workers' Club on April 7 at 7.30pm.
Arrests at Irish Club protest
BRISBANE — Four people were arrested on March 16 after trying to enter the Irish Club to protest against a male-only function attended by PM John Howard.
Three were released shortly afterwards but one, Jo Ball, was held for three and a half hours before being charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police.
Ball says that she was treated like a dangerous criminal, held in a cell with a glass-fronted wall and watched by 20 police recruits while officers collaborated on a charge sheet. Ball, well-known for her political activism, will plead not guilty.
Nurses' unions and supporters of Medicare have declared April 7 a national day of action to defend the public health insurance scheme. Actions will be held across Queensland and in other states.
No new women's prison
SYDNEY — Thirty-five demonstrators outside the NSW Parliament House on March 27 voiced their opposition to Labor state government plans to spend $42 million building a new women's prison at Windsor on the north-west outskirts of Sydney.
The NSW upper house has called for a moratorium on construction while it inquires into the suitability of more prisons for the state. The inquiry committee has heard evidence that alternatives to prison, such as diversionary and educational programs, are less costly and more appropriate responses to criminal behaviour.
Aboriginal women, in particular, are grossly over-represented in NSW prisons: they make up less than 2% of the overall female population, yet nearly 30% of women in prison are Aboriginal.
For more information about the No New Women's Prisons Campaign, contact the organisers on 0413 257 469 or e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.