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BRISBANE — “Australia is the only Western democracy without human rights legislation”, James Whelan from Amnesty International told a public forum attended by 50 people on May 23.

NEWCASTLE — More than 30 people attended a speak-out to express solidarity with the Pine Gap Four at the Hamilton’s Clocktower on May 25. One of the Pine Gap Four, Donna Mulhearn, is a well-known peace activist in the Hunter region. She was among those arrested after successfully carrying out a “citizens’ inspection” of Pine Gap on December 9, 2005. Their trial goes to court shortly.

On May 23, a group of traditional landowners of the Yuin people served an eviction notice on Forests NSW, demanding the immediate cessation of logging in the Bodalla State Forest.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has expressed concern after the Northern Land Council nominated a site at Muckaty, near Tennant Creek, for a proposed nuclear waste dump.

A group of Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority from western Burma’s Arakan state, is being held indefinitely at the Australian government detention centre on Nauru.

The City of Sydney Council wants to limit the distribution of printed material, something that Cameron Murphy, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCLL), believes may violate the constitutionally implied right to freedom of political communication.

On the June 2-3 weekend, hundreds of people from around NSW will gather at the site of the proposed Anvil Hill mega-coalmine in the Upper Hunter Valley to protest their opposition to the state government and coal companies’ push to expand the coal industry. It’s expected that NSW planning minister Frank Sartor will decide whether to approve the mine very soon.

Organising is underway for demonstrations during the APEC summit, which PM John Howard is hosting in Sydney on September 8-9 and which US President George Bush and other “world leaders” will be attending. The Stop Bush collective is organising a convergence for September 8, aiming to draw people onto the streets to protest against the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. The protest will also call for urgent action to stop environmental destruction and for the defence of workers’ rights.

Two hundred young people attended a protest on May 19 to demand that the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay be closed. The action, organised by the combined schools Amnesty International group, heard from a range of speakers, including high school students, ALP state MP Lisa Sing and Greens state MP Nick McKim.

After the Supreme Court on May 16 banned the Basque party Abertzale Sozialisten Batasuna (ASB) from contesting the May 27 local and regional elections, more than 82,000 Basques signed petitions for the creation of new electoral lists. However hundreds of pro-independence and left candidates in the Basque Country have also been banned on the basis of suspected links to Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA — Basque Homeland and Freedom). Some 133 candidate lists of the legal party Accion Nacionalista Vasca (ANV — Basque Nationalist Action), which formed in 1931, have also been banned. A statement on May 23 signed by 17 members of the European Parliament described the bans as “a serious attack against the most basic civil and political rights in Europe” and called for a political, peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Basque Country.

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