More than 29 Hazaras traveling on a bus near Quetta, Pakistan, were separated from other passengers and executed by Islamic fundamentalists on September 20. This was the third time Hazaras have been attacked in a month. After hearing the news, more than 400 Hazara asylum seekers in Curtin detention centre protested the killings near the centre’s administration building on September 21. The protest was to alert the immigration department of the situation Hazaras face in Pakistan.
“Most countries don’t detain asylum seekers” or, if they are detained, they “are only detained until the UNHCR recognises them and then they are released,” Robyn Sampson, researcher with the International Detention Coalition told a public meeting on alternatives to detention of asylum seekers.
A group of refugee activists from the Refugee Advocacy Network and the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) took on a very ambitious project a few years ago, which has culminated in the Just Like Us exhibition. The exhibition opened on August 26 — the 10th anniversary of the Tampa incident, when then-PM John Howard refused to allow the Norwegian ship Tampa to dock in Australia after it had rescued asylum seekers from a sinking boat.
These days, there aren’t many victories against attacks on working-class people by neoliberal governments and greedy, ruthless corporations. This makes the victory in the campaign to save Melbourne’s only Aboriginal school, the Ballerrt Mooroop College in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Glenroy, especially important. Late on September 12, the state education minister Martin Dixon sent an email to campaigners saying that he had agreed to the compromise plan that had been negotiated between the Ballerrt Mooroop College and the Glenroy Specialist School for disabled children (GSS).
Electrical Trades Union members around the country are currently voting for national and state union officials. The ballot goes from August 8-29. Nationally, a team of Howard Worthing, former assistant Victorian secretary, and Greg Wilton, former Western Australia organiser, are challenging incumbent national secretary Peter Tighe and Allen Hicks, for the positions of national secretary and assistant national secretary respectively. Allen Hicks is former Queensland assistant secretary. Reconnect ETU is running a full ticket against the Victorian incumbent leadership.
A new picket line was set up on August 10 to defend Melbourne’s only Indigenous school, Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC) in Glenroy. The day before, electricity was cut to the school gym and the locks were changed as the education department announced that the school gym/community hall (which is a traditional gathering place), the spirit tree and the ceremonial grounds would be demolished to make way for the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) to come on the site, leaving the BMC with only a few classrooms.
Police snatched four Palestine solidarity activists from their houses in the early hours of August 9. Arrested for allegedly breaching their bail conditions by attending a protest against Israeli apartheid outside a Max Brenner shop on July 29, the activists had to pay outrageously high bail sureties to be released.
Of the 19 protesters arrested at a Palestine solidarity protest outside Israeli-owned store Max Brenner in Melbourne on July 1, 13 were issued with bail conditions preventing them from entering the QV shopping centre or Melbourne Central shopping centres in Melbourne. The Melbourne Central shopping centre has a major city train station on its bottom floor. The protest was part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the apartheid state of Israel. It is modelled on the campaign to boycott South Africa in the 1970s and ’80s.
August will mark one year since Palm Island Aboriginal leader Lex Wotton was released on parole. Unlike the police officer charged with the 2004 murder of Palm Island resident Mulrunji Doomadgee, Wotton was jailed for taking part in the protests against Doomadgee’s death. No one was jailed for Doomadgee’s death in police custody. Despite his release, Wotton is muzzled by parole conditions aimed to silence him. He is subject to a four-year political gag, which bans him from speaking to the media or attending meetings. Wotton has launched a High Court challenge against the gag order.
A health scare developed at Villawood detention centre in June after an asylum seeker was diagnosed with leprosy. Despite assurances from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, a whistleblower revealed the extent of asylum seekers’ poor health care. International Health and Medical Services is the private health provider contracted to provide health care to people held in Australia’s immigration detention centres.