On February 24, 200 people rallied at the Esplanade Lagoon despite tropical rain to oppose a proposed resort and housing complex at False Cape on the coast south of the city. Until now, this side of Trinity Bay has provided Cairns with a natural setting visible from its centre.
As right-wing death squads reassert their presence and gangs and organised crime with links to the highest levels of government operate freely, campesinos (peasants) and organised youth are being persecuted and beaten in the streets. On February 27, while holding a peaceful and legal protest against the regional free trade agreement CAFTA and the government’s crackdown on civil liberties, 27 young activists were detained, charged with civil disobedience and brutally beaten by the civil police. Meanwhile the Popular Youth Bloc is awaiting information on the fate of Edwar Contreras Bonifacio, who was forcibly disappeared when he left college on February 7. An international solidarity campaign is underway and people are urged to write to the nearest Salvadoran consulate or embassy demanding his safe return, as well as the release of the 27 arrested youth. The youth and popular organisations are responding to this campaign of state-sponsored intimidation with the call to “Answer more repression with more struggle!”
The Islamic Girls and Women’s Group will make its office in Ross House on Flinders Lane available for use by Muslim Legal Services Victoria to provide free legal services for Muslims.
On February 24, Hy Vuthy, a leader of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of Cambodia (FTUWKC) was shot dead while driving home. The murder occurred shortly after Hy Vuthy successfully negotiated with a company for a one-day holiday for Khmer New Year. This was the third murder of a FTUWKC representative since the union’s former president, Chea Vichea, was killed in 2004. On February 26, the International Trade Union Confederation called on the Cambodian government to investigate the crime, bring those responsible to justice, and to end the campaign of repression against trade unionists. For more information, visit <http://www.ituc-csi.org>.
Young people are likely to be hit hard by Work Choices, the Youth Coalition, the peak youth affairs body in the ACT, told the Legislative Assembly’s select committee on working families on March 1.
The South Korean anti-war movement is appealing for support in its campaign demanding the right to hold an anti-war demonstration on March 17, as part of the global weekend of action on the anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. The government has banned the protest. Korean Action against Dispatch of Troops to Iraq, an anti-war coalition comprising 351 organisations, is calling on international anti-war and pro-democracy groups to send letters of protest to, and organise demonstrations outside of, the South Korean consulate or embassy in your country. Messages of solidarity can be sent to <antipabyeong@empal.com>.
After an epileptic seizure on December 15, Sharif Assad, a Syrian being held in Sydney’s Villawood immigration detention centre, was transferred to Bankstown hospital against his will and tied to a bed.
On February 25, 12-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache in Maryland. A simple tooth extraction could have saved his life, but by the time he received medical attention a tooth infection had spread to his brain. Driver’s family did not have private health insurance and their Medicaid coverage had expired. Even with Medicaid, many people have to travel several hours to find a dentist willing to treat them — just 900 of the state’s 5500 dentists accept Medicaid patients. Figures show that fewer than one-third of children in Maryland’s Medicaid program received any dental care during 2005.
Hicks has spent five years, mainly in solitary confinement, at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, which the US set up on illegally occupied Cuban territory to ensure independence from the legal system of any country, including the US itself.
Intimidation of trade unionists escalated during February after union leaders protested the abduction early that month of three workers involved with railway workers’ union newspaper Akuna. One of the three was Sisira Priyankara, the paper’s editor, who had been involved in lodging complaints by unionists to the courts against salary hikes for senior government figures. Following the protests, the government announced that the three unionists were in custody and were being interrogated over suspicions of links with insurgents. Since then, posters targeting union leaders who protested the abductions have appeared in public places across the country, branding them terrorists and calling for their arrests. The International Trade Union Confederation is demanding an end to the harassment of and attacks on unionists. For more information visit <csi.org>.


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