Chris Slee

Forty people attended a meeting about the Northern Territory government's attack on bilingual education in remote Indigenous communities on November 18. The government has banned teaching in Indigenous languages during the first four hours of the school day.

The meeting began with a phone link to two people from the Yirrkala community, where the local school is defying the ban. They said teaching children in Yolngu language was vital to maintaining culture and producing better academic results.

More than 100 people attended a Brunswick candidates’ forum about planning issues on November 11. The high attendance reflected anger at the many high-rise buildings planned for the inner-Melbourne area. Six state election candidates addressed the meeting.

Socialist Alliance candidate Trent Hawkins said residents must be involved in decision-making. Planning minister Justin Madden has "called in" 230 projects so far this year, allowing him to overrule local council decisions. Hawkins said development decisions must involve the community.

On October 27 a public meeting at Brunswick Town Hall discussed "public space vs. market place".

University of Melbourne lecturer David Nichols discussed the design of modern shopping centres, which discouraged people from gathering in groups even for informal discussion.

Victorian branch secretary of the Rail Tram and Bus Union Trevor Dobbyn spoke of his experiences in the struggle for the right to march in Queensland in the 1970s — a struggle in which thousands were arrested.

About 50 people attended politics in the pub at the Queensberry hotel on October 12, to discuss the upcoming November 27 Victorian elections.

Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters, spoke about the Victorian ALP government’s record. He said the contract for the proposed desalination plant is secret, but the cost is likely to be about $18 billion.

The plant will use huge amounts of electricity and add to greenhouse pollution.

Three hundred people attended a launch of author and activist Tariq Ali's new book, From Bush to Obama — Change We Can Believe In? on October 6.

Ali said Obama’s election campaign had raised people's hopes and mobilised US youth, but people were now disillusioned and angry. He said Obama was a “master of bullshit”. Obama’s rhetoric sounded different, but fundamentally continued the policies of the Bush regime.

Twenty people attended a September 28 Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) meeting to hear Bruce Campbell, from the WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committe, discuss the campaign for justice for Mr Ward.

On Invasion Day (January 26) 2008, Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder, was arrested and died of heat stroke in the back of a prison van the next day while being taken 360km in 42°C heat.

On July 21, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published an interview with Donald Perera, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Israel. Perera, the former Sri Lankan Air Force commander and Chief of Defence Staff, thanked Israel profusely for its support in the fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

More than a year after its victory over the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) continues to hold large areas of land in the predominantly Tamil north and east of Sri Lanka as “high security zones” (HSZ).

Many of the Tamil inhabitants who were evicted from these areas to create the HSZs during the decades-long war are still unable to return to their homes.

The ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won nearly two thirds of the seats in the Sri Lankan parliament at the April 8 national elections. The exact figure is uncertain, because the result in two electorates was annulled because of polling day violence.

Three Tamil men in Victoria have been given suspended sentences after pleading guilty to charges of providing money or resources to a group on the United Nations list of proscribed “terrorist” organisations.

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