Jim McIlroy

The federal government must take a “strong and principled” approach to opposing the death penalty whenever and wherever it is applied, former ALP national president Barry Jones told a public forum attended by more than 100 people on April 19. The forum was organised by Australians Against Capital Punishment.

Around 1000 workers rallied in Musgrave Park on April 20 to oppose the Howard government’s Work Choices legislation, under the theme “Time’s Up”.

“The Women Workers Help Line is a member-based, voluntary, non-profit making, non-governmental organisation, struggling to create legal, political, democratic and trade union awareness among women for a socially just, economically equitable, politically aware and gender sensitive society”, explains the WWHL’s vision statement. Green Left Weekly’s Jim McIlroy visited Bushra Khaliq, the WWHL’s general secretary, at the organisation’s Lahore headquarters in late March.

In late March, Green Left Weekly’s Jim McIlroy spoke to Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan, in Lahore. The LPP is a revolutionary socialist organisation working with other forces to end the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf, and seeking to unite workers, peasants, women and youth in the struggle to bring about socialism in Pakistan. The interview took place amidst the campaign by lawyers and their supporters to reinstate the suspended Chief Justice of the Pakistan High Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

Around 5000 lawyers protesting on March 21 vowed not to rest until they succeed in removing General Pervez Musharraf from office, forcing the withdrawal of the reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and gaining assurance of a full independent judiciary capable of protecting the constitution. They called for the establishment of a truly democratic government through free and fair elections. The dispute was sparked on March 9 when Musharraf suspended Chaudhry.

“Today was a victory for democratic forces, not only for the Labour Party Pakistan, but for all the other parties who were able to go onto the streets in support of democratic rights”, LPP general secretary Farooq Tariq told Green Left Weekly’s Jim McIlroy in Lahore on March 26, following a round of demonstrations.

In Venezuela, after decades of class polarisation, neglect of the needs of the majority, corruption on a massive scale and unbridled bureaucracy, the magnitude of problems that Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution led by socialist president Hugo Chavez is attempting to tackle is enormous.

The Howard government’s Work Choices laws “have had an overall negative effect for women in the work force”, Griffith University Professor David Peetz told Green Left Weekly on February 27. “The slow trend toward improvement in female compared to male levels of pay and conditions has been reversed under Work Choices, threatening much of the gains of the previous 10 years”, said Peetz.

“Brilliant, fantastic, inspiring … Never shaken so many hands in one day”, commented Pat Rogers, a Brisbane staff member of the Electrical Trades Union, after experiencing the May Day march of more than 1 million workers in Caracas during the Australian trade union solidarity brigade to Venezuela in April-May last year. People in Australia will have the opportunity to join a May Day brigade to Venezuela again this year, from April 30 to May 9, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).

One of the best-known and most successful aspects of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution has been the “social missions” — social programs funded by Venezuela’s oil wealth aiming to solve the most pressing problems of the nation’s poor majority. One of the best known and most successful social missions was one of the first to be established, the health program Mision Bario Adentro (“Into the Neighbourghood”). Established in April 2003, the mission has brought free quality health care via the establishment of popular health clinics in poor neighbourhoods across Venezuela. Before Barrio Adentro, health care was out of reach for many of the poor, as private health care was too expensive and the public health system was in a state of disrepair.

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