Simon Cunich

A June 1 student conference held at Sydney University resolved to make George Bush’s visit to Australia and the September APEC summit in Sydney a focus for the anti-war and environment campaigns on campus.
Organising is underway for demonstrations during the APEC summit, which PM John Howard is hosting in Sydney on September 8-9 and which US President George Bush and other “world leaders” will be attending. The Stop Bush collective is organising a convergence for September 8, aiming to draw people onto the streets to protest against the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. The protest will also call for urgent action to stop environmental destruction and for the defence of workers’ rights.
“A social movement is essential for changing government and opposition policies to halt the climate crisis”, Dr Mark Diesendorf told a May 22 public meeting at the University of NSW to launch his book Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy. Diesendorf told the audience of around 200 people that individual and household solutions are not sufficient.
As PM John Howard prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (APEC) in Sydney in September — to which US President George Bush and around 21 world leaders have been invited — a debate has opened over tactics for protests against the summit.
On April 4, students at the University of Sydney will protest against the $50-$100 million development of the United States Studies Centre (USSC), a “think tank” designed to “strengthen the relationship” between Australia and the US.
On March 22, some 1500 protesters on Parliament Lawns denounced Tasmanian Labor Premier Paul Lennon’s push to fast-track the building of a $1.5 billion pulp mill in Bell Bay, in northern Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.
Four years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the country is wracked by ongoing and escalating violence. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, according to a study published in the respected British medical journal The Lancet in October.
Most students started on campus a week after John Howard decided to send more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. With the government under growing pressure to bring David Hicks home, the surge against the war and the so-called war on terror is growing rapidly on all campuses.
At 8am on February 16, police served writs citing a court injunction from Forestry Tasmania on three Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) office-bearers, according to the February 17 Hobart Mercury. The court order was to stop a “walk-in” planned for the following day in the Weld Valley exclusion zone to highlight the ongoing logging of old-growth forests.
On the third anniversary of the death of young Aboriginal man TJ Hickey, his mother Gail told a rally of some 200 people at the site of his death in Redfern that her family was still being harassed by the cops. Hickey said police harassment of young people in Redfern must stop, or there would be more deaths like that of her son, who was impaled on a fence while being chased by police.
The announcement that charges have been laid against 31-year-old Australian man David Hicks, who has now been held in US military custody in Guantanamo Bay for more than five years, has been welcomed by the Howard government, which is unable to charge Hicks with any crime under Australian law.
When questioned by the media about opposition in the US Congress to the George Bush administration’s “surge” of troops to Iraq, Vice-President Dick Cheney kept his message simple: “It won’t stop us.” In the January 24 interview with CNN, Cheney added, “We have to have the stomach to finish the task”.
For the first time since the foundation of the National Union of Students (NUS) 15 years ago, Labor’s right-wing student faction, Unity, was ousted from the office of general secretary at the NUS annual conference, held in Ballarat on December 4-7.
Almost a year ago, in the same week the Howard government’s industrial relations “reforms” were passed by the Senate, most of the media’s attention was focused a series of “anti-terror” raids that targeted a group Muslim men in Melbourne. Despite all the media surrounding the arrests, the men were not charged with conspiring to commit any specific terrorist act. The media hysteria helped fuel the racist Cronulla lynch mob attacks in December 2005.
On October 31, Morocco’s allies on the United Nations Security Council — including France, the United States and Britain — blocked a motion to condemn human rights abuses against the people of occupied Western Sahara. Despite reports of Morocco’s escalating repression of the Saharawi independence movement, the resolution passed by the Security Council merely extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), a 15-year-old “peacekeeping” mission that has failed to facilitate a referendum on self determination.
Around the country, campus and high-school environment activists are focusing on getting young people to participate in the November 4 Walk against Warming international day of action on climate change.

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