The protest song is present still, yet to what extent does its significance reach the alienated world? The medium that transcends form and style seems smothered beneath the illusion of freedom of expression. The murder of Chilean revolutionary singer Victor Jara may be a nauseating historical crime yet, today, protest singers are still exiled or assassinated in some countries. In the face of such brutal epilogues, the protest song may be mellowing its voice into a more socially acceptable role.
In the United States, Google-owned video-sharing site YouTube has banned the video for hip hop star M.I.A.’s new single “Born Free”, citing the graphic nature of its content. More than nine minutes long, the clip, directed by Romain Gavras, begins with heavily armed soldiers with US flags on their uniforms raiding someone’s home. The location is not known, but the setting is reminiscent of Baghdad or the Palestinian West Bank.
Beyond Black & White By Manning Marable Verso Press, 2009, 319 pages Review by Malik Miah Manning Marable’s latest book is an update of a valuable critique of Black and US politics first issued in 1995. He revised it last year, adding new chapters covering the period from 1995 to 2008, including an analysis of the meaning of the election of the first African American president of the US, Barack Obama, in November 2008.
Environmentalists have scored a win against logging in Mumbulla state forest in south-east New South Wales. Forests NSW suspending activity on April 28 after it was revealed the area may be part of an Indigenous Protection Zone. The Narooma News that day said areas due to be logged were gazetted as Aboriginal sites in the 1980s. Since March 29, activists have been fighting to save the native forest and its fragile koala colony.
In a democratic society, when there is a deep crisis, it is customary for the government to dissolve parliament and call elections in order for the people to decide. This happened in Britain and France after mass strikes and demonstrations in the 1960s and 1970s. After mass right-wing “Yellow Shirt” protests against the government in Bangkok in 2006, Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) government dissolved parliament and called elections.
On April 20, 200 angry protesters shouted down state police minister Rob Johnson, as he tried to justify the anti-democratic “stop-and-search” laws. The proposed legislation allows police to conduct potentially intrusive body searches without suspicion of a crime. The laws would also allow the minister to make any space a “declared area”, which drastically increases police powers in that area. The crowd was also addressed by Greens MLC Giz Watson, Labor opposition police spokesperson Margaret Quirk and Dr David Indermaur from the Crime Research Centre.
A sea of about 150 red shirts packed a restaurant in Cabramatta on April 25 to show solidarity with the democracy struggle in Thailand, led by the "Red Shirt" movement. Organised by Thai Red Australia, the night had added importance due to the threat of a military crackdown as thousands of Red Shirts occupied central Bangkok. Speakers urged active support for the democracy uprising, in the face of brutal military attacks that have killed more than 20 civilians.
"Say no to Roe!", chanted more than 100 people at a rally outside state parliament on April 22. The rally was organised to oppose a five-kilometre freeway extension (Roe stage 8) between the Kwinana Freeway and Stock Road in Melville, south of Perth. Speakers said the proposed extension was expensive, unnecessary and environmentally destructive. It would desecrate Noongar sacred sites and threaten the endangered species.
Visiting Pakistani socialist and anti-war activist Ammar Ali Jan and Edmund Rice Centre director Phil Glendenning delivered powerful presentations on why the Afghanistan-Pakistan “war on terror” was a fraud. They spoke at a meeting organised by Stop the War Coalition on April 27. Ali Jan said the US was facing a checkmate in Afghanistan after failing to find a credible replacement for the corrupt and increasingly weak President Hamid Karzai (also known as “the mayor of Kabul” for his limited political influence).
Farmers at Caroona on the Liverpool Plains near Quirindi, New South Wales, have been defending their properties from invasion by BHP-Billiton’s coal exploration drillers. For 615 days, until March 25, they inspired coal-threatened communities everywhere with their blockade, by saying “No” — and meaning it. Trish Duddy and Tommy and George Clift have been at the blockade camp for every one of those 615 days, joined by other locals on a rolling roster for cups of tea, information-swapping, resolve-steeling — and symbolic trailblazing.