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.
Palestinian Ambassador to Cuba Akram Samhan told an event in Havana on April 17 that Israeli jails have locked up more than 760,000 Palestinians since 1967. The event marked the 35th Palestinian Prisoner Day. The staggering number of Palestinians jailed by Israel is equal to 20% of the population of Gaza, the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem. Samhan said this demonstrates that the occupying force has been met with Palestinian resistance that will continue until their homeland is free.
Clients at the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre heard on April 29 that people in disadvantaged areas, such as Fairfield, could have their welfare benefits "quarantined" as early as next year. The public meeting at the centre featured Peter Davidson from the Australian Council of Social Services and Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr people’s walk-off in the Northern Territory. The walk-off began in July 2009, protesting against the effects of welfare quarantining, and other NT intervention measures, in the community of Ampilatwatja.
About 90,000 people marched in Yomitan, Okinawa on April 25 to call for the closure of US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, an April 29 Counterfire.org article said. Protesters included the governor and all the mayors of Okinawa. Participants issued a statement calling for immediate closing and relocation of Futenma US Base outside Okinawa or the country. The rally recorded a record-high participation in Okinawa, expressing public opinion against the base. In 1995, 85,000 marched in protest at the rape of a schoolgirl by US servicemen.
The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) remains defiant about its ban on conducting the NAPLAN national schools test, despite the state Labor government forcing it to go before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), said the April 29 Courier-Mail. The QIRC hearing took place on April 30, after the QTU refused to abide by a direction from the commission, a week earlier, to lift its boycott of administering the tests.
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.
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.
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.