Chris Peterson

About 240 people attended a forum on “Wikileaks, Assange & defending democracy” on April 19. Presented in partnership with the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens' Alliance (WACA), the forum argued that conversations about WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange are about much more than the organisation and the individual behind it. They encompass freedom of speech and the press, whistleblower protection, government transparency, the underlying tenets of our democracy and civil rights. 
Photos by Ali Bakhtiavandi
Members of Occupy Melbourne took Melbourne Council to court on March 20 over its attacks on the movement last year. Occupy Melbourne said: “Hearings commence today at the Federal Court as part of the legal challenge against the City of Melbourne’s response to the peaceful Occupy Melbourne protests held throughout the city since October 2011.
Photos by Ali Bakhtiavandi
About 200 people marched in Melbourne on March 11 to commemorate the Fukushima nuclear disaster and call for an end to uranium mining. Long-term anti-nuclear campaigner Margaret Beavis told the rally: “We need to phase out nuclear power. Why are we risking everybody’s health with this terrible power source?” Tomo Matsuoka from Japanese for Peace said: “Australian uranium ended up as fallout at Fukushima. Nuclear power has never been sustainable and never will be. Australia is the supplier of the fuel — we must stop it.”
Kurdish protesters in Melbourne went on a 48-hour hunger strike on March 12 in support of Kurdish political prisoner and leader, Abdullah Ocalan. They said they also sought to increase awareness about the need to find a peaceful solution to the Turkish government’s oppression of Kurds. The Melbourne Kurdish Association said: “On February 15, 2012, 400 Kurdish political prisoners went on an indefinite and non-alternate hunger strike in prisons across Turkey and Kurdistan. In recent times another 400 prisoners joined these indefinite hunger strikes, making a total number of 800.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in New York in September last year and rapidly spread to hundreds of cities and towns across the United States, continues organising against the greed and exploitation of the “1%”. Occupy activists are mobilising against home evictions, supporting workers fighting for their rights and taking action against corporate exploitation and environmental destruction.
The Ballerrt Mooroop College Support Group met on March 4 to discuss action in response to the imminent closure of the college, which is the last surviving Aboriginal school in Melbourne. Aboriginal people in the area have worked hard to keep the school open. But over the past 12 months, the education department has taken much of the land away and bulldozed the valuable student and community asset, the gymnasium/gathering place.
Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke to Melanie Sluyter, an environmental activist from the United States who took part in Occupy Wall Street and is visiting Melbourne. * * * How did you get involved in the Occupy movement?
Police violence has been increasing against the Occupy Melbourne camp, now located at Flagstaff Gardens. There have been a number of extremely questionable police actions in recent days against Occupy Melbourne. These include: the establishment of a 24/7 police presence and operations van next at Flagstaff Gardens; the arrest of a man for swearing; and -- worse of all -- the forced removal of Occupier’s clothing when wearing tent costumes.
The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) has begun a series of rolling stoppages for better wages and conditions at mental health services across Victoria. HACSU covers mental health and allied health workers. Stoppages and rallies have been held in Bendigo and Shepparton, and at Eastern Mental Health, St Vincents and Melbourne Health. A two-hour stopwork rally will be held at Latrobe Valley Mental Health on November 29, from noon at the Latrobe Valley Hospital in Traralgon.
Activists from Occupy Melbourne’s Indigenous Working Group served an eviction to Melbourne City Council and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle on November 23. Indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe said: “Australia is a crime scene, whose law is based on the principles of theft, rape and murder. We need a treaty with the Original Nations.” The action was called by in response to the recent violent attacks on the democratic right to protest, including the brutal attack on several Indigenous activists on October 21 when Occupy Melbourne was evicted from City Square.
Activists rallied in Melbourne to call for greater rights for people with mental illness on September 16. The rally was called by the Australian Mental Health Human Rights and Law Reform Coalition to condemn abuses in the Victorian mental health system.

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