Jim McIlroy

Hundreds of members of the Turkish community rallying in central Sydney on June 1.

Hundreds of members of the Turkish community rallied in central Sydney on June 1 to protest the Turkish government's crackdown on peaceful protesters in Istanbul over recent days.

As part of its federal election campaign this year, the Socialist Alliance is calling for the mining industry, the big banks and the energy companies to be put back into public hands, so that they can be run in a way that respects the environment and social justice. But several other important industries should also be in line for nationalisation under workers' and community control in future.
About 100 people packed into the Gaelic Club on May 10 for the Politics in the Pub forum: "Venezuela — A New Democracy or a Command Capitalist State?" Speakers were Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions co-author Federico Fuentes and Latin American studies post-graduate Rodrigo Acuna. The speakers rejected the "Command Capitalist State" definition of Venezuela today.
"Why are Sri Lankan Tamils seeking refuge in Australia? And why are we keeping them locked up?" was the theme of a forum on May 8, sponsored by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS) and the Sydney Peace Foundation. About 30 people attended the meeting held at the University of Sydney. Brami Jegan from the Sri Lanka Human Rights Project told the audience that up to 100,000 Tamils were massacred by the Sri Lankan military at the end of the 28-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger guerrilla forces in 2009.
About 20 people gathered outside the Department of Immigration offices in Sydney on May 10 to demand freedom for a Tamil refugee named Ranjini and freedom for all refugees with negative ASIO assessments. Another protest was held outside Villawood detention centre on the same day. A statement by the Refugee Action Collective said: "The Sydney actions are part of national protests to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the detention of Ranjini and her two children in Melbourne. Ranjini has since had her third child, Paari, born in detention in January 2013.
About 40 protesters rallied outside the University of New South Wales main library on April 30 to oppose the planned opening of a Max Brenner chocolate store on campus, and call for UNSW to adopt the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli apartheid.
About 200 people rallied outside NSW government offices on May 3 to protest the decision of the NSW Liberal government to defund the Welfare Rights Centre (WRC), an advice and advocacy service for pensioners, the unemployed and other welfare recipients. The $400,000 cut is 40% of the WRC funding (the rest coming from the federal government) and is seen as an attempt to silence a voice for the poorest sector of society. This follows federal Labor government cuts to sole parent pensions, a step which plunged thousands more women under the poverty line.
An emergency speak-out: "Hands off Venezuela" was called by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) at Sydney Town Hall on April 19. Almost 100 people attended the rally, plus a small counter-protest of about a dozen Venezuelan supporters of the right-wing opposition. The rally called for "an immediate end to the opposition-initiated violence [in Venezuela], and to demand that the US and Australian governments come out and recognise [Nicolas Maduro] as Venezuela's head of state."
Compulsory income management of disadvantaged welfare recipients was slammed by speakers at a forum at the Bankstown Arts Centre on April 11. The forum, organised by the Say No to Government Income Management: Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere campaign coalition, attracted about 40 people to hear representatives from unions and Aboriginal, migrant and youth groups call for a campaign to stop the extension of income management from July 1 this year.
The SEARCH foundation held a conference called “Secure Jobs in a Green Future: Australian Left Renewal Conference”, on April 6-7. It featured international guest Costas Isychos, a member of the Greek left party SYRIZA and head of the party’s external and defence policy.
More than 200 people attended the "Todos Somos Chavez — We Are All Chavez" memorial meeting at the Addison Community Centre on March 16. The event was one of several memorials held around Australia to honour the life and political struggles of Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez. Organised by the We Are All Chavez Committee, and supported by the Embassy of Venezuela in Australia, the event featured a night of toasts, music and videos in memory of Chavez.
About 40 people attended public forum titled "Agent Orange campaign — experiences from Vietnam and Australia," on March 4. The forum was organised by Agent Orange Justice and heard from a delegation of speakers from the Vietnam Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), and representatives from several Australia-based groups carrying out support work for Vietnamese victims of US chemical warfare during the Vietnam war.