Chris Slee

There is a medical emergency on Nauru, where many physically and mentally ill refugees are being detained without proper medical treatment, according to Kathy, a refugee on the Pacific island.

"The new [Sri Lankan] government has made no substantial changes", Tamil National People’s Front leader Gajen Ponnambalam said when addressing a mainly Tamil audience in Melbourne on October 14.

Ponnambalam was referring to the government of President Maithripala Sirisena, who was elected in January 2015, replacing Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, the main backer of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has supported the rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, in the southern Russian town of Sochi on September 17.

After the meeting, it was announced that Putin and Erdogan had reached an agreement on the future of Idlib, a province in northern Syria.

About a third of Victoria's firefighters have experienced bullying in the workplace and more than 95% believe that negative media coverage of their campaigns for new enterprise bargaining agreements had profoundly damaged workplace morale and led to "public aggression" and a "reluctance to disclose their occupation".

Refugee advocates are campaigning to stop the deportation of Huyen Tran, a Vietnamese woman who fled her home country by boat due to religious persecution in 2011.

About 100 people attended an election forum on transport in the Moreland local council area with some candidates on September 27. The Victorian election is on November 24.

Large rallies were held in towns throughout Idlib on September 14 in response to the threat by the Assad regime to invade the province in Syria’s north-west.

Idlib is currently controlled by a mixture of rebel groups. The strongest is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an extremely reactionary Islamist group that controls 60% of the province.

Fifty refugee supporters held a vigil on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, to commemorate the suicides of three refugees in the space of two weeks.

About 4000 Tamils rallied in Mullaitheevu on the northeast coast of the island of Sri Lanka on August 28, Tamilnet reported.

They demanded the return of land previously confiscated from its Tamil owners and given to settlers from Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese ethnic majority, as well as the abandonment of irrigation projects that will result in further Sinhalese settlements in Tamil areas.

Twelve people have died in Australian offshore detention centres in the past five years as a result of murder, suicide and medical neglect, according to Angelica Panopoulos from the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

United Firefighters Union (UFU) members employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) held meetings to discuss their struggle to win enterprise agreements for their workplaces on August 20.

The proposed new agreements are still being blocked, several years after the expiry of the previous agreements. This is largely due to federal industrial relations legislation that has created a range of obstacles. CFA and MFB managements have also obstructed attempts to resolve the problems.

Of the many world-shaking events that took place in 1968, high on the list was the movement for reform in Czechoslovakia to create a democratic socialist alternative to the Stalinist bureaucratic dictatorships that ruled the Soviet bloc. Chris Slee takes a look at the movement, which was dramatically ended by a Soviet Union-led invasion.

On the night of August 20/21, 1968, tanks from the armies of the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria rolled into Czechoslovakia. The aim of the invaders was to crush a movement for reform.

The Institute for Postcolonial Studies hosted a forum on August 1 to discuss the November 4 independence referendum in Kanaky-New Caledonia (KNC).

Kanaky is the indigenous name for the Pacific island country known to its French colonisers as Nouvelle Calèdonie (New Caledonia). The independence movement is proposing that the combined name Kanaky-New Caledonia be used.

More than 100 people attended a rally on June 24 to protest against the impending deportation of a Tamil family.

Nades, Priya and their two children had been living in Biloela, a small town in Queensland, for four years. On March 5 at 5am, their home was surrounded by 40 police and Border Force officers, and they were taken away with only 10 minutes to pack.

Earlier this year firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) voted to endorse the proposed enterprise agreement that had been agreed on by MFB management and the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

This followed a long campaign by the union for an agreement that would protect workers' rights. UFU state secretary Peter Marshall told Green Left Weekly the agreement was endorsed by the "overwhelming majority" of firefighters.

Seventy refugee supporters held a birthday party for a young girl outside the State Library on May 12. They ate birthday cake and sang "happy birthday".

But three-year-old Kopika was unable to attend. She was kept behind razor wire in the Broadmeadows detention centre, along with her parents and sister.

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