Kerry Smith

On August 17, Ali Humayun, a Pakistani gay man locked up in Sydney’s Villawood detention centre, received a report from the federal ombudsman recommending he be released into the general community while he waits for the High Court to hear his appeal against a decision by a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) to reject granting him refugee status.

In an August 2 media release, Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) announced that it rejects “any suggested implication that demonstrating against the injustices of globalisation and war means support for violence”. The MUA statement was made in response to a NSW police training video for the September APEC summit that featured footage of MUA officials participating in legal non-violent protests.

In a July 26 media statement, the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) in Australia expressed its concern at threats by the Indonesian military (TNI) to use militia groups against “separatists” in West Papua.

Thousands of people rallied on July 13 and 14 around Australia during NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week. Around 400 people gathered in Brisbane on July 14. Speakers from as far away as the Torres Strait Islands spoke out against Howard’s invasion of the Northern Territory, Aboriginal deaths in custody, inequality in health and housing, and the Beattie government’s plans to forcibly amalgamate councils. New Zealand activist Julia Espinoza spoke about Maori solidarity with Aboriginal people.

On July 5, anti-war activist Peter McGregor confronted Attorney-General Philip Ruddock at a University of NSW symposium and served him with a warrant for war crimes. Police arrested McGregor, a retired academic from Newcastle, and charged him with “unlawful entry on inclosed lands”. The warrant charged Ruddock, along with PM John Howard, foreign minister Alexander Downer and defence minister Brendan Nelson with crimes including “Planning, preparing, initiation or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances”.

On June 28, the Unions NSW council meeting adopted a motion expressing “support and solidarity with the Saharawi people in their struggle for freedom and independence. Unions NSW strongly condemns the gross violations of human rights carried out by the Moroccan regime against Saharawis, including students, workers and human rights activists in the occupied areas.”

Striking workers at the Esselte Australia warehouse in Minto have described as “unrelenting” their employer’s tactics in attempting to force them to sign individual contracts (AWAs).

Disability support worker Joanne Ball will appear before a local court on June 22 on charges of obstruction and interferring with a police officer during the February protest against the visit to Sydney by US Vice-President Dick Cheney.

SYDNEY — Traditional owners from areas threatened with a potential nuclear waste dump are travelling across Australia to explain how a dump would irreversibly damage their land and culture.

Veteran Aboriginal activist Kevin Buzzacott has been awarded the Australian Conservation Foundation’s (ACF) 2007 Peter Rawlinson Award for his work over two decades highlighting the impacts of uranium mining and promoting a nuclear-free Australia.

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