Israeli queer activists organised a protest on April 29 in front of the Israeli foreign affairs ministry in Jerusalem to protest against an “Israeli LGBT Festival” being organised in San Francisco called “Out in Israel”. The US event is funded by the Israeli consulate and Jewish organisations' together with support from the Israeli foreign affairs ministry.
Over April 19-20, Indonesian police and naval officers forced almost 150 Tamils onto buses at Port Merak and took them to the Tanjung Pinang detention centre. For seven months, more than 250 Tamils had withstood appalling conditions aboard a squalid boat at the West Java port. Their hope was for refugee status in Australia. Their fear was of being locked up in Indonesian detention centres or deported back to Sri Lanka.
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.
A military coup, backed by the United States, ousted a democratically elected government in Honduras on June 28, 2009. It has arrested, without trial, thousands of democracy activists. More than 50 activists from the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) have been killed, and there are more than 100 other violent deaths related to the coup and curfews. The lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trangender and intersex (LGBTI) community is being particularly targeted.
As towns go, Orroroo in South Australia might seem small, but with 850 people it is one of the larger stops on the road between Broken Hill and Port Augusta. The countryside around it is marginal farmland. Only in the occasional year is there enough rain for a good crop of wheat, and in a process with well-researched links to global warming, the wet years have been getting fewer. It is ironic, therefore, that this district 250 kilometres north of Adelaide now seems destined to hurry climate change along.
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.
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.
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).
The following is a transcript of a speech by award-winning journalist John Pilger at the Sydney Teachers’ Federation on April 23. It was part of a public launch of the Four Days in July national Aboriginal rights convergence in Alice Springs from July 6 to 9. * * * I am honoured to be on this platform tonight, and I would like to express my warm appreciation to Richard Downs for asking me to join him in launching this extraordinary call-out to all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Have you heard about the campaign called “Four Days in July”? Well, you are about to. From now until July 6 we are planning to ask: “Will you join us in Alice Springs for a better future? Just four days in July, that’s all we are asking.” Such a small thing to ask but imagine the momentum: it won’t stop at Four Days in July, it will be historic, people will talk about it for years to come. They’ll talk about:
The Sydney launch of the Four Days in July national Aboriginal rights convergence was addressed by journalist John Pilger, Alyawarr peoples’ walk-off spokesperson Richard Downs, Maritime Union of Australia Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer and Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS. More than 300 people attended the April 23 meeting.
As a doctor working in the front line of the public hospital system for a decade, I have been watching the debate around health reform with great interest. The phrase “controlled locally, funded federally” has been repeated ad nauseam by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Imagine if we could hear him saying “free universal health care for all ... no more handouts to the private sector ... break the feudal strangle hold of the colleges on the number of specialists being trained ... will include dentistry ... a healthy society ... a shorter working week so we have time to exercise...”.
David Lowe, a Townsville-based administration officer and union activist, was preselected by the Socialist Alliance Queensland state conference on April 17 to join Brisbane Aboriginal community leader Sam Watson on the Senate team for the upcoming federal election. Lowe is helping to establish a Socialist Alliance branch in Townsville. Below, Lowe explains what prompted him to run with the Socialist Alliance. * * *
Bolivia's World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was radical, inspiring, uncompromising and exactly what was needed. Up to 30,000 people from six continents took part in the summit, which was held in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba from April 19 to 22. The huge oil spill from a BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico underscores the summit’s significance. About 800,000 litres of oil are spewing out a day. The company admits it may not be able to stop the leak for weeks — or even months.
African American artist Gil Scott-Heron, whose political poetry influenced a generation of rap artists, sensationally announced the cancellation of his planned gig in Tel Aviv on April 24. Speaking onstage at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Scott-Heron told the audience he “hated war” and told the packed audience his Israel tour date would not be going ahead. Fans dismayed at the planned gig had earlier disrupted his concert. They repeatedly heckled the performer and asked him to cancel.
Over April 17-18, Tamils across Australia voted overwhelmingly in favour of the formation of an independent and sovereign homeland — Tamil Eelam — in the north and east of Sri Lanka. In what was described by organisers as “the most successful political event for the diaspora in Australia”, 99.38% of participants voted “yes”.