There is little mystery behind Iraqis' tenacious resistance to US President George Bush's war of occupation: over four years of war have left the country devastated and resulted in the deaths of over half a million Iraqis, according to a study published in the influential British medical journal The Lancet.
More than 1 million public servants across South Africa have embarked on the largest public sector industrial campaign in the country’s history. On June 1, more than 700,000 workers downed pens and clipboards for an indefinite stoppage, while another 300,000 “essential workers”, who are prohibited from striking, joined huge nationwide marches, pickets and other protest actions. While the immediate demand is for a significant pay increase, an important undercurrent of the mass action is working-class and poor people’s growing dissatisfaction with the pro-rich policies of the African National Congress (ANC) government.
On June 5, the Iraqi parliament approved a law giving itself the formal authority to block the extension beyond December of the UN Security Council mandate under which US and allied foreign troops are deployed in Iraq.
As several hundred people gathered in front of the Australian embassy in Jakarta on May 30 screaming “Fuck you Australia” and the mainstream media denounced Australia as “arrogant”, after Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso was asked to testify at the NSW coronial inquiry into the 1975 Balibo killings in East Timor, rights groups expressed a somewhat different view. At a joint press conference in Jakarta on May 31, Indonesia’s NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy (Koalisi LSM) said that Sutiyoso should have been arrested for refusing the summons. According to deputy NSW state coroner Dorelle Pinch, Sutiyoso was allegedly part of Team Susi, one of the Indonesian military units in Balibo when the five Australian-based journalists were murdered. United Nations police, who in 2000 began a formal investigation into the killings, believe that Sutiyoso was one of several officers involved in the attack and other clandestine operations against Portuguese East Timor in 1975. In October of that year, Sutiyoso led an assault on the sleepy coastal town of Batugade in Timor, the first time that Jakarta had occupied and held a foreign town and the precursor to the full-scale invasion two months later.
Some 55,000 people demonstrated in Hong Kong on June 4 — the 18th anniversary of the Chinese army’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
On June 5, Labour Party Pakistan general secretary Farooq Tariq was arrested from his home by a large contingent of police without a warrant. His detention is part of a recent wave of repression by the military regime of President Pervez Musharraf, in which hundreds of activists have been arrested. The LPP, which is pursuing legal action and organising protests against Tariq’s detention, believes he was arrested due to his role in the lawyers’ pro-democracy movement and in activities against the Pakistan electronic Media Regulatory Authority, and because of the LPP’s announcement that it would hold a Free Media Conference on June 6. Tariq had also been arrested on May 4 and detained for three days to prevent his participation in the public reception for suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.
The trial of the “Pine Gap Four” in Alice Springs is continuing with the Crown lawyer arguing that the jury should not be determining the reasonableness of the activists’ actions. Michael Maurice QC argued that, “Engaging in activities to disrupt the implementation of public policy can never be reasonable”.
The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) has officially started the process of forming a local political party following a meeting in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh on June 4, which was attended by GAM leaders, members of the Aceh Transitional Committee (KPA) and activists from the Aceh Referendum Information Centre. KPA Chairperson Muzakir Manaf said that that the idea to form a local party is part of GAM’s political struggle following the Helsinki peace deal signed by GAM and the Indonesian government on August 15, 2005. “Now is the time for us to undertake measures to create an Aceh that is more just and dignified”, he told Acehkita.com on June 5. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia where law permits the formation of local parties not affiliated with an existing nationally based party. Three local parties have already been established — the leftist Acehnese People’s Party, the Acehnese People’s Alliance Party for Women’s Concern and the Gabthat Party.
The Socialist Party of Timor (PST) is fielding 65 candidates in the June 30 parliamentary elections, and also has 25 candidates on the supplementary list (which comes into operation if candidates withdraw or die, or vacate their position after the election). Fourteen parties are contesting the elections. Topping the PST’s list of candidates is party secretary-general Avelino Coelho da Silva. PST president Nelson Correia is second on the list; two well-known women activists, Angela Fraga and Maria de Carvalho, are the third and fourth candidates.
The start of the official campaign period for East Timor’s June 30 parliamentary elections has been marred by violence, including killings. The most serious incidents took place in Viqueque district, where two men were shot dead on June 3. An investigation by the Major Crime Investigation Unit and the National Investigation Unit is underway, focusing on a number of East Timorese police officers (PNTL).


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