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Around 400 people also rallied and marched in Brisbane, calling for troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and the release of David Hicks. Margaret McPherson from the Stop the War Coalition, which organised the rally, urged support for the April 21 national day of action to free Hicks. Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett and Greens member Willy Bach also addressed the rally, which was part of a global weekend of action.
On march 19, the Madhya Pradesh government agreed to meet some of the demands of the survivors of the 1984 chemical explosion and deadly gas leaks at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, which killed thousands of people and left tens of thousands with severe health problems. After hunger strikes by survivors and an international solidarity campaign, the government agreed to provide clean water, medical care and rehabilitation to victims, as well as to release information about the water and soil contamination around the abandoned factory site and to construct a wall to contain it. Pragya, a Bhopal activist, said following the decision, “Thanks to all who sent their prayers and faxes and other good vibes. Bhopal remains not only ground zero of the chemical industry’s global wounding, but also ground zero for the fight for people’s basic human rights to live in a poison-free environment, to drink water that is free of toxic chemicals, and receive basic medical care for their injuries.” If the government fails to implement its promises, protests will take place in India and around the world during April and May. For more information visit <http://bhopal.net>.
Workers from across Melbourne have thrown their support behind National Union of Workers (NUW) members who are on strike at Preston Motors in Campbellfield.
The deputy commander of Fiji’s military has threatened public sector unions — including the Fiji Public Service Association, the Fiji Teachers Union and the Fiji Nurses Association — that it will intervene to stop a planned strike against a 5% pay cut and reduction in the retirement age from 60 to 55. According to Fijilive.com on March 17, Teleni said that it will enforce the Public Emergency Regulations, which restrict strikes and public gatherings. He also declared that workers would lose their jobs if they joined the strike. The March 23 Fijionline.com quoted Fiji Nurses Association general secretary Kuini Lutua as saying her union would continue to fight until the government withdraws the proposed pay cut. “Currently I have 98 per cent of support from members of the association and when we plan to go on strike nothing will stop us.”
Scenes of joy and relief erupted outside the Brisbane courts complex on March 21 after a Supreme Court jury cleared four Palm Islanders of charges of rioting causing destruction.
Survival International reported on March 19 that the government of Botswana has banned Bushmen in the Kalahari Game Reserve from using their own water. The government refused the Bushmen’s request to install, at their own expense, a pump at a borehole on their land. The government justified its decision by arguing that the land is owned by the government. In December, Botswana’s High Court ruled that the 2002 eviction of the Bushmen from their land was illegal and that they had a right to live there. According to Jumanda Gakelebone of the Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari, “The court said we could go back to our land, but now we see that the government is doing everything it can to stop us. Why else would it stop us using a borehole that nobody else is using? Without water we cannot live in the Kalahari.” For more information, visit <http://www.survival-international.org>.
“Nuclear fools’ day” protests will mark Palm Sunday — April 1. The protests are in response to the most significant push for expanded uranium mining in Australia since the Hawke Labor government’s 1983 decision to defy public opinion and allow uranium mining to continue at Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine in the Northern Territory, and to be developed at Australia’s two other largest uranium deposits — BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) mine in South Australia, opened in 1988, and Rio Tinto’s Beverley mine (also in SA) in 2001.
On his Alo Presidente radio program on March 5, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez reiterated his call for the creation of a united party of all those who support the Bolivarian revolution that his government is leading — a process that is struggling to transform Venezuela to overcome underdevelopment and poverty.
Deriding the likely technical efficacy of the USA’s ballistic National Missile Defense (NMD) system (a key element of which is already stationed in Britain at the Fylingdales radar base), Ming Campbell, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, asked Prime Minister Tony Blair on February 28: “Do you accept that the system proposed is largely untried, indeed it has been described as firing a bullet in order to hit a bullet?”
On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the US-British-Australian invasion of oil-rich Iraq, the American Broadcasting Corporation released the results of a survey showing that 78% of Iraqis oppose the continuing presence of US and allied foreign troops in their country.

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