This moving letter for Reza Berati from men incarcerated on Manus Island was released on February 18 by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. * * * Hello dear Reza. How are you? Are you in a good place? Everyone is here and they are saying hi to you. I'm sure you remember Mustafa! He is saying to you: "Let's play cards!" Ali is saying: "Do you remember you would always get 6-6 whenever we played backgammon?" Hussain is saying: "Do you remember whenever we played soccer, you would always be the goal keeper because you were tall?"
Pressure is mounting on Australia’s big four banks over their support for the construction of coalmines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Greenpeace launched a public email campaign targeting the executives of ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac, “to publicly rule out financing or advising Adani [Mining] on the Carmichael coal mine and associated infrastructure project in the Great Barrier Reef or Queensland”.
At the G20 meeting held in Brisbane last December, Treasurer Joe Hockey unveiled his blueprint for the Australian economy. It came in the form of a document grandiosely titled The Comprehensive Growth Strategy. This was Australia’s contribution to the G20’s strategy to raise their overall economic output by 2% over the next five years. So it must have come as a surprise to cigar-smoking Joe that when the IMF and OECD looked at the fine print of his document and reached for the abacus they concluded that it would, if implemented, add only 1.2% to economic output.
Grandmothers Against Removals National Committee and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy released this statement at a rally in Canberra on the anniversary of the National Apology on February 13. * * * Today we march in protest against the unprecedented theft of Aboriginal children from their families by so-called “Child Protection” agencies across Australia.
On February 9, the Grandmothers Against Removals joined a national sit-in protest at Parliament House in Canberra. This group of Aboriginal women has campaigned tirelessly to raise the issue of what they call the “Stolen Generation of the 21st Century”. Despite the official policy of child removals being over, Aboriginal children are today placed in “out of home” care at record rates.
Police descended on the house of Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) secretary general S Arutchelvan (Arul) in Kajang on February 19, arresting him under the Sedition Act. We believe Arul has been arrested for his press statement on behalf of the PSM on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy 2 guilty verdict. In the statement, Arul criticised the Federal Court judgement, saying the courts are not independent and are politically driven.
Australia has a poor record on native animal extinctions. We know that native forest is essential habitat for koalas and other wildlife. Yet, knowing how important the preservation of sufficient, suitable habitat is to sustaining endangered wildlife, we still continue to destroy vital native vegetation and old growth forest. The dire situation for koalas around Ballina, NSW, is in the spotlight again. A critical colony of more than 200 koalas is at risk of extinction in the region if Stage 10 of the Pacific Highway upgrade goes ahead.
Concrete placement workers employed by Boral/De Martin and Gasparini (DMG) have won their battle for a union Agreement, securing better pay and conditions, including restoration of their site allowance. The workers greeted the news from the negotiating team on February 18 with fists in the air and chants of, "Who are we? We're CFMEU!" A substandard, non-union agreement was put to the workers by the company before Christmas. This was overwhelmingly rejected, and workers took protected strike action to secure a union agreement that would improve their pay and conditions.
"Let Greece Breathe" was the theme of a rally called by the Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign (AGSC) at Sydney Town Hall on February 16. Several hundred people gathered to express their support for the new SYRIZA-led Greek government and the right of the people of Greece to end austerity and challenge the dictatorship of the European banks and central authority.
Independent journalist and filmmaker John Pilger was interviewed Michael Albert on the determination of the US and its allies to overthrow Venezuela's elected government and destroy the Bolivarian revolution begun by late president Hugo Chavez.
Thousands of citizens in Athens, Rome, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Lisbon, Vienna, Madrid, London and many other cities in Europe, as well as the United States and Australia, have taken to the streets in solidarity with the Greek people who are living a humanitarian crisis. Three weeks ago, the Greek people voted to put an end to the austerity policies imposed by the Troika (International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union).
The statement below was released on February 17 by socialist groups in the Asia-Pacific region in response to a new coup attempt, including planned assassinations and bombings, by the US-backed right-wing opposition against Venezuela's socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro. *** We, the undersigned organisations, strongly condemn the recent coup attempt that sought to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela in order to reverse the achievements of the socialist Bolivarian process.
"Let Greece Breathe" was the theme of a rally called by the Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign (AGSC) at Sydney Town Hall here on February 16. Several hundred people gathered to express their support for the new SYRIZA-led Greek government and the right of the people of Greece to end austerity and challenge the dictatorship of the European banks and central authority.
When Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003 by US forces, advocates of the Iraq War boastfully celebrated the event as proof that they were right and used it to mock war opponents. When Muammar Gaddafi was forced by NATO bombing in August 2011 to flee Tripoli, advocates of US intervention played the same game. ThinkProgress, for instance, gleefully exploited the occasion to try to shame those who objected to the illegality of Obama’s waging the war even after Congress voted against its authorisation — as though Gadaffi’s fleeing could render legal Obama’s plainly illegal intervention.
Thousands of people hit the streets of Europe in solidarity with the Greek people and their newly-elected left-wing government, which is looking to undo years of imposed economic austerity programs. “Let Greece breathe” has become the rallying cry for those who want Greece’s new Syriza’s government to have a chance to tread a new path for Europe. Demonstrations in cities across Britain, France, Spain and elsewhere stood in solidarity with massive crowds in Greece to express support for the Syriza government led by new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Protesters marched through Redfern on February 14 to commemorate 11 years since Aboriginal teenager TJ Hickey was killed after being chased on his bike by police. No police have been charged over Hickey's death and his family are still waiting for justice. Police were heavy handed in their approach to the march, confiscating any banners or placards that mentioned the police and their role in TJ’s death. Photos are by Peter Boyle.