John Tully

Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s multiple award-winning 2016 film Land of Mine is harrowing viewing. But it is not to be missed by anyone interested in issues of war and peace — or in fine films.

Solidarity with the Kurdish freedom struggle was stepped up at an inspiring conference held in Melbourne over the June 30–July 1 weekend.

The conference, held at Victoria University (VU), discussed the bold experiment in radical democracy, feminism and ecology that is taking place in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS). Most importantly, the conference resolved: “It is a duty of supporters of the liberation struggle in northern Syria to make determined efforts to publicise its inspiring achievements and build practical solidarity with it”.

No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson
By Jeff Sparrow
Scribe Publications, 2017
Paperback, 292 pp

Melbourne writer Jeff Sparrow’s new book, No Way But This is a thoughtful, sensitive and respectful examination of the life and work of Paul Robeson, the great African-American baritone, Shakespearian actor, and left-wing political activist.

In January last year, many thousands of academics around the world signed the statement “We will not be a party to this crime”, which called for peace in Turkey.

The statement was issued in solidarity with courageous academics in Turkey who had formed the Academics for Peace group and were working for an end to state terror in Turkish Kurdistan. The group pushed for the resumption of peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdish liberation movement, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Members of Melbourne’s Kurdish community rallied outside the city’s Turkish consulate on October 28 to protest the arrests of the co-mayors of the city of Diyarbakir in south-east Turkey.

The two mayors, Gültan Kişanek and Firat Ali, were arrested on October 25 and accused of links to the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). Kişanek is also an elected member of the Turkish Parliament for the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party. She is also the city’s first female mayor.

Residents of Yarraville in Melbourne’s inner western suburbs have campaigned for years to ban heavy truck traffic through the suburb.

Despite some victories such as truck curfews at night and during school hours, and the promise of eventual diversion of traffic through a planned bypass, residents now face the prospect of B Double trucks being diverted through the suburb.

On October 6 NSW Supreme Court Judge Natalie Adams reserved her decision on Kurdish journalist Renas Lelikan’s bail appeal until 14 October. Lelikan, who is charged with membership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been remanded in custody since July 20.

Originally held in Sydney’s Silverwater Prison, he was transferred to isolation in the Goulburn “Supermax” jail following death threats against him by ISIS sympathisers.

On January 26, 1988 - the bicentenary of the invasion of Australia - Burnum Burnum planted the Aboriginal flag under the white cliffs of Dover and took possession of England on behalf of the Aboriginal people.

Fifty years ago this week, 200 Aboriginal stockmen and domestic servants walked off the job at Lord Vestey's Wave Hill cattle station, 600 kilometres south of Darwin. Most of them were members of the Gurindji people, with small numbers of Walpiri and other indigenous people. They were to stay out on strike for ten years.

About 80 people rallied outside the Turkish consulate in Melbourne on May 25 to condemn the massacre of Kurds and support the People's Democratic Party (HDP) MPs now facing prosecution by the Recep Tayyip Erdogan government.

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