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The most striking thing about Thailand's coup d'etat is the speed and size of the anti-coup protests. Int he three days immediately after the coup, mass protests of ordinary people have erupted in many areas of Bangkok, but also in Chiangmai and other towns. This is history in the making.
The letter published below was sent to Human Rights Watch's executive director Kenneth Roth on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire; former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans von Sponeck; current UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Richard Falk; and more than 100 scholars (listed below). It is reprinted from . * * * Dear Kenneth Roth,
The US government has reaffirmed its “deep respect for the Israeli army’s moral code” days after video emerged of a cold-blooded Israeli sniper killings two Palestinian boys. The boys, 17-year-old Nadim Siam Nuwara and 16-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu al-Thahir, were killed at a Nakba Day protest near the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia on May 15. Nakba Day commemorates the ethnic cleansing in 1948 when Israel was founded on the back of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and land.
The way the United States government treats soldiers returning from its wars of imperial conquest indicates its priorities. There have been many reports of failures to adequately treat all the cases of mental illness resulting from the wars of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq. High levels of alcoholism, drug use, depression and suicide have been reported by veterans and their families.
People in Turkey are sad and angry. At least 300 workers lost their lives in a May 13 mine accident in Soma, a small town 300 miles from Istanbul. It was the biggest workplace disaster in Turkish history. But instead of punishing management and promising to improve safety, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has openly defended the company. All across the country, people are mobilising against the government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has reacted with police violence, pepper gas, and water cannons.

In Washington, the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate approved, in a 13-to-2 vote, the “Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act” on May 20. The bill includes sanctions on key Venezuelan government representatives and at least US$15 million to “defend human rights… and strengthen the rule of law”. Committee chair, Democrat Robert Menendez, played a lead role in the writing of the proposed legislation. He plans to present the bill before the whole Senate in the coming weeks.

Venezuela and Palestine have signed fresh agreements on oil, taxation and diplomatic cooperation, Venezuela Analysis said on May 19. The agreements were made during a visit by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to Venezuela. In a key agreement, Venezuela created a new corporation, Petro-Palestina, through which Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA will send oil to Palestine at a subsidised price. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro committed to sending an initial shipment of 240,000 barrels of oil.
“We walked and walked and walked for days until we finally settled on the beach of Damour,” said 80-year-old Um Zohair. “On the beach we fetched green banana leaves together and with bamboo sticks we made a hut that sheltered us for three months on the sand.” Sixty-six years ago, Um Zohair was one of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homeland, Palestine. “That was the first time we were displaced,” she said. Since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, a series of upheavals and struggles has marked Palestinian refugees’ nomadic life in exile.
Sonny Melencio is chairperson of the Filipino Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM) and a former council member of Solidarity of Filipino Workers (BMP). Melencio is also involved in a new coalition against the established “political dynasties” in the Philippines, called Alliance for Truth, Integrity and Nationalism (ATIN).
Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & '60s Volumes I By Ernest Tate Resistance Books, 2014 www.resistancebooks.org “A police cruiser with two uniformed officers pulled up alongside me,” recalls Ernest Tate in his newly published memoir Revolutionary Activism. “They jumped out and asked me for identification. I gave it to them. ‘What’s in your suitcase?’ Dirty underwear, I said. ‘Open it,” they ordered. I told them it was none of their business. They almost went berserk …”
For the past five years, we have heard a great deal of rhetoric from British politicians about the “tough choices” that the financial crisis has imposed on the nation. Again and again, we heard that this crisis affected everyone equally, and that all of us were rowing together to put it right and share the burden and hardship.
The Danish Red-Green Alliance (RGA) marked 25 years since its founding at a national conference on May 16 to 18. A radical left unity project marking 25 years in existence is itself a cause for celebration, but this conference was able to celebrate much more. After about 20 years as a fringe party in Danish politics, the RGA has recently emerged as a significant force.
About 2000 unionists marched in Gladstone, Queensland, on May 5. It was a good crowd, particularly since it was a workday, but workers were determined to take time off to send Premier Campbell Newman a message that our May Day is in May. Two years ago, Newman decided to change the date of Labour Day to October. But Gladstone has stuck to tradition and maintained marching on this day, because local unionists we believe that is where it should stay. Gladstone is the only town in Queensland to do this and plans to keep the tradition going into the future.
After the brutal budget comes the ceaseless round of insulting lies and justifications from the government.
About 300 pensioners, unemployed people and sole parents attended a rally called by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition on May 21. Marion Lau, deputy chairperson of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, spoke of the injustice of the federal government’s plan to force workers, including those in heavy manual jobs, to work to the age of 70 before they can get the age pension.
An estimated 3000 students have rallied in Sydney against the Coalition government's proposal to deregulate university fees. This was part of a national protest organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) on May 21. On the same day, staff at the University of Technology Sydney, went on strike for 24 hours and joined the protest. They have been in negotiations with the university for increased job security, fairer pay and equity in the workplace.

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