About 300 Tamil political prisoners in 11 prisons began a hunger strike on October 12. Many of the prisoners have been detained without trial under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Some have been in jail for up to 20 years. They are accused of being members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka, but was defeated in 2009.
An international campaign has been launched to call for the release of Khalid Mohd Ismath, a Malaysian student activist and a member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), who has been detained since October 7. Khalid has been active in highlighting human rights violations and misuse of power by the authorities in Malaysia. He was arrested on October 7 under the Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Act 1998 for allegedly posting offensive comments on social media.
Fadang Randal is a representative of the United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti — PCJSS), who visited Australia in September. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Tony Iltis * * * The PCJSS is working for the social and political rights of the indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. We are very much concerned now with the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord — a treaty signed in 1997 between the government and the PCJSS.
On October 12, Amnesty International released a report alleging “civilians living in areas of northern Syria under the de facto control of the Autonomous Administration led by the Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (Democratic Union Party, PYD) are being subjected to serious abuses that include forced displacement and home demolitions.” The report said some of these alleged abuses were war crimes.
With elections due on November 8, a loud call for change in Myanmar (formerly Burma) can be heard in the streets. All commentators predict victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) over the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). Several factors, however, indicate it will not be a landslide. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, known throughout the country simply as “the lady”, came to political prominence in 1988 when she returned to Myanmar to support her ailing mother and became embroiled in the students' struggle against the military regime.
Foreign journalists are not welcome in Nauru. This is because of the erosion of rule of law and national sovereignty that has occurred as a result of the tiny and impoverished nation's government hiring out the island as a location for one of Australia's concentration camps for refugees. The point of locating the camps on remote Pacific Islands is so that the deliberate ill-treatment of refugees — which is what “deterrence” means — can happen out of sight and beyond the meagre protection of Australian law.
Khodayar Amini, an Afghan Hazara asylum seeker who feared immigration authorities were planning to put him back in detention, has died after set himself alight on October 18. Amini had been released from Yongah Hill detention centre in Western Australia on a bridging visa after more than two years in detention. Shortly before killing himself, Amini spoke via video phone to Sarah Ross and Michelle Bui from the Refugee Rights Action Network (WA), telling them that he would rather kill himself rather than go back to detention.
Hundreds gathered outside the Immigration Department office in Melbourne on October 19, chanting, “Bring back Abyan” and “Close Nauru, close Manus”. Rallies were also held that day outside Immigration Department offices in Sydney and Darwin. In Brisbane, protesters targeted immigration minister Peter Dutton's office on October 21. Protests were also held in Canberra, Sydney and Perth on October 23 and Melbourne on October 24.
Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for December in Paris, federal resources minister Josh Frydenberg has sought to invoke “a strong moral case” to justify his government's green lighting of the Carmichael mega-coalmine in the Galilee Basin. However, his argument is as spurious as the economic justifications made by Adani and federal and Queensland governments in support of the project.
New revelations shed light on the cruelty being inflicted on refugees in Australia's offshore detention centres. They come just days after the Department of Immigration and Border Protection sent a pregnant Somali refugee woman back to Nauru where she had been raped. Abyan, as she is known, was transferred to Villawood detention centre on October 11 from Nauru where she was going to speak with doctors about her desire for a termination.
The Zero Carbon Australia: Renewable Energy Superpower report published by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) is now available. Author Gerard Drew and a brigade of contributors provide much detailed technical evidence that demonstrates the potential for Australia in a global transition away from reliance on fossil fuels.
Former police prosecutor Peter Murrihy is the new councillor for the Kildare ward after winning the recent by-election in the Greater Geelong Council. Murrihy defeated 10 other candidates to win the safe Liberal ward with 27.41% of the primary vote. Although Murrihy said he was politically unaffiliated, he received preferences from Liberal Party member Trent Sullivan. Much was made in the local media of the fact that Murrihy put forward no political promises or commitments during his campaign.