More than 100,000 people have been displaced and countless numbers killed in the north Sudanese government’s latest offensive in the region bordering south Sudan. South Sudan is set to formalise its secession on July 9 after a near-unanimous vote for independence in the January referendum.
If you are a cow destined for someone’s dinner plate, the federal Labor government won’t send you to Indonesia without a guarantee you will be treated humanely. But if you are an asylum seeker risking your life to reach Australia by boat in a desperate attempt to escape war, poverty and persecution, the government will send you to Malaysia with little regard for your welfare.
Coalition leader Tony Abbott wrote to PM Julia Gillard in March calling for a bipartisan approach to Aboriginal issues and a “second intervention” in the Northern Territory. He flew to Alice Springs in late April to further these calls. June will mark four years since former PM John Howard launched the Northern Territory Emergency Response — or NT intervention.
When climate change deniers took to the streets in March against the federal government’s proposed carbon price, some of this country’s most notorious shock jocks were leading the way. Chris Smith, talkback host on Sydney commercial radio show 2GB, was a major promoter of the March 23 rally outside Parliament House in Canberra. The rally was littered with signs featuring misogynist slogans and bizarre rebuttals of the existence of climate change. Everyone you’d expect at a conservative reunion was there, from opposition leader Tony Abbott to former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.
Mining company BHP Billiton’s whopping $10.5 billion profit for the second half of 2010 highlights the shameless greed of those making a fortune out of Australia’s valuable resources. Remember the tantrum thrown by BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata less than a year ago after then-PM Kevin Rudd proposed the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT)? The RSPT wasn’t a radical proposal. Part of the revenue from the modest 40% tax would have been returned to the corporate sector, helping to fund a cut in the already low corporate tax rate and various subsidies to mining.
The Youth for Change organisation has called for protests throughout Sudan on March 21. The February 28 Sudan Tribune reported that spokesperson Magdi Okasha said their aim is to overthrow the regime. The call follows a series of anti-government protests by youth and students, most notably on January 30, when thousands of students inspired by the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt were met with violence from security forces. Many activists arrested during and after the protests remain in jail without charge.
Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is still holding dozens of protesters arrested during and after the January 30 protests against Omar al Bashir’s government. The protests were inspired by the Egyptian revolution. The protesters are being held without charge. There are reports that many have suffered torture, including electrocution and sleep deprivation. Women detainees have been threatened with rape.
“The situation in Egypt is different than the situation of Sudan,” Sudanese government spokesperson Rabie Atti insisted to reporters after January 30 anti-government protests. “We don’t have one small group that controls everything. Wealth is distributed equally. We’ve given power to the states.” Atti proves one similarity between Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt and that of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir: both make ludicrous public statements that show no understanding of reality or the consciousness of their populations.
Thousands of students braved the notoriously brutal Sudanese police and security forces on January 30 in anti-government protests inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, SudaneseTribune.com reported that day. Rallies took place at three universities and other sites across the capital, as well as in east and west Sudan. Students called for General Omar al Bashir’s National Congress Party government to resign and condemned recent austerity measures and ongoing attacks of democratic rights.
The January 9-15 referendum on self-determination in south Sudan looks certain to result in the division of Sudan into two countries. About 96% of the 3.9 million registered voters took part, well exceeding the required 60% turnout. The final result will be announced in February. But with 80% of the vote counted, the South Sudan Referendum Commission reported a landslide vote of almost 99% in favour of independence. The Republic of South Sudan is expected to be officially declared in July.
It was hailed as the first “competitive”, “open”, “multi-party” elections in Sudan in 24 years, but there was little free, fair or open about the national poll that began on April 11 and was boycotted by opposition parties.
“It’s been a fantastic, energising experience”, Aboriginal activist and Sydney Socialist Alliance (SA) member Pat Eatock told Green Left Weekly at the seventh SA national conference. Her sentiments were echoed by many of the more than 220 participants in the January 2-5 gathering in Sydney.