The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on January 13. *** It is feared that a 33-year-old Iranian asylum seeker on hunger strike may have only days to live. Refugee activists have launched an appeal to Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and Assistant Minister Michaelia Cash to urgently act to prevent his death.
Kep Enderby, a former Whitlam government minister, barrister and Supreme Court judge remained true to his socialist principles and was a valued supporter and subscriber to this publication, Green Left Weekly until his passing on January 7. As attorney general and minister for the ACT under the Whitlam Labor government, he decriminalised abortion and homosexuality in that territory in 1975, setting a dramatic lead at that time in social reform that many Labor governments would be challenged to match these days.
The statement below was released by Socialist Alliance national co-conveners on January 9. *** The Socialist Alliance condemns the massacre of journalists, cartoonists and others at and around the offices of the Paris-based publication Charlie Hebdo. However offensive anyone may have found some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, this act of brutal violence is not justified.
The statement below was released by the Tamil Refugee Council in Australia on January 9. The day before, opposition-backed presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena beat incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who oversaw war crimes and abuse of the human rights of Tamils and others in Sri Lanka. *** The Tamil Refugee Council urges the Australian government to use the change of leadership in Sri Lanka to push for a resolution to the country’s most pressing issue – the long-standing oppression and persecution of Tamils.
Green Left Weekly will soon be sending Vivien Messimeris and Dick Nichols (our European correspondent) to Athens to report on the historic January 25 Greek elections, which could result in the election of the Coalition of the Radical Left, SYRIZA, to government on a strong program opposing the ruthless austerity imposed by the big global bankers on Greece.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is being challenged by Maithripala Sirisena, who was until recently one of his ministers, in the January 8 presidential elections. However, many Tamils and leftists see little difference between the two. Sirisena is being supported by the opposition United National Party, and has promised to appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe as prime minister. There are 16 other candidates.
The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, appointed by the Abbott government and headed by retired judge Dyson Heydon, released its interim report on December 19. The report called for criminal charges to be laid against several Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) officials, including charges of blackmail against the CFMEU's Victorian state secretary John Setka and assistant secretary Shaun Reardon.
The planned forced deportation of Villawood detainee Wei Lin on December 19 was successfully stopped at Sydney apirport that day. A professional athlete in China, Wei Lin has already faced persecution and harassment in China after exposing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Chinese sport in the late 1990s. Wei Lin, accompanied by four Serco guards, was handcuffed and masked, and driven to the back of the airport and onto the Air China plane on the afternoon of December 19.
The federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has foreshadowed further major cuts to public sector jobs and services in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) released on December 15. The MYEFO is an update on the draconian federal budget brought down by the treasurer in May this year.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has angrily rejected new sanctions against his nation signed into law by US President Barack Obama on December 18. The bill was passed by US Congress last week, authorising sanctions against Venezuelan officials. Via Twitter, Maduro said: “President Obama has taken a false step against our country by signing the sanctions, despite the national and continental rejection of them.
Cuban President Raul Castro gave a speech on December 17 in which he said relations between Cuba and the United States would be reset. “We have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations, but this does not mean that the main issue has been resolved, the blockade that generates economic losses and humanitarian problems in our country must stop,” Castro said.
The National Union of Students (NUS) Conference 2014 kicked off at the Mannix College in Monash University, Melbourne last week to decide policy and administrative reform for the next year. They also voted to for the reintroduction of a new series of Office Bearing positions for 2015. The conference was dominated by Young Labor Right, Student Unity, The Labor Left, National Labor Students, Socialist Alternative and Grassroots Collective. A scattering of independents also attended.
MANY TENS of thousands of people took to the streets December 13 in New York City, Washington D.C., and others cities in a powerful demonstration that the movement against police violence and lawlessness is only growing larger and stronger. As protesters in New York City got ready to march, Ann, an African American woman from the Bronx, summed up the message of the day. "It's a definite war," Ann said. "A lot of people aren't calling it that, but it's a war. I'm seeking justice for my family and other people who need it."
Last month, Rolling Stone ran an article on rape culture in US colleges, focusing primarily on the experiences of a young woman who told the magazine she was gang raped at a frat party. Rolling Stone has been accused of letting rape survivors everywhere down by not properly fact checking the claims of the woman in question, Jackie, and for running a story with inconsistencies. The magazine did let rape survivors down, but not by believing Jackie. They let us down by abandoning her for not being a good enough victim.
Otis lift workers in Melbourne claimed victory on December 17 after an eight-week lockout when they voted to accept an agreement that included all but one of their demands. The 174 Otis workers had been trying to negotiate with the company since April. With the company insisting on a below-inflation 1% wage increase, the workers began industrial action at the end of September with bans on overtime, shiftwork and the commissioning of lifts and escalators. The company responded by locking out the workers on October 21.
In a statement condemning the “senseless and merciless slaughter of innocent school children” by by religious fanatics in Peshawar, Pakistan, the left-wing Awami Workers Party (AWP) accused the Pakistani state and military of complicity in “Islamist terrorism”. A hundred and thirty-two students were killed in the December 16 suicide attack by the Pakistani Taliban on the the military-run Army Public School, AWP general secretary Farooq Tariq told Green Left Weekly.