In a turbulent meeting on April 20, City of Yarra councillors voted to reinstate a ban on public drinking, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The motion was passed by a coalition of Labor councillors and independents, five votes to four. The votes against were from the Socialist Party councillor and three Greens. It overturned a March decision to lift the drinking ban during daylight hours. The ban, known as Local Law 8, was passed in October and implemented in December.
Forty refugee rights supporters protested outside Labor foreign minister Stephen Smith's office on April 23, demanding an end to the government's "freeze" on asylum-seeker applications from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Speakers included Refugee Rights Action Network members Phil Chilton and Victoria Martin-Iverson, Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth Alex Bainbridge and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. The next action planned by the Refugee Rights Action Network is an overnight vigil outside the Perth Immigration Detention Centre on May 7.
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.
Repression and resistance. These two words sum up Honduras today. There is truly terrible repression — reminiscent of the Central American “dirty wars” run by US-trained militaries in the 1980s. But there is also unprecedented resistance that has mobilised a previously compliant majority. This is the situation that exists in the aftermath of the June 28 military coup last year that overthrew the elected president, Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya’s crime was to agree to the demands of a united front of social movements to start a democratic process of writing a new constitution
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.
In the Cochabamba football stadium on April 22, diverse indigenous peoples paraded around the track, thousands of local peasants sat in the stands, and thousands more activists from around the globe waved flags and chanted on the field. A common sentiment flowed through the crowd: something historic had occurred over the previous three days during the April 19-22 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth organised by the Bolivian government in Cochabamba.
On May 1, international workers’ day, 500 people marched in Wollongong. Trish Corcoran from the Socialist Alliance spoke about the racist Northern Territory intervention on Aboriginal communities, and the solidarity the union movement is showing with the people fighting it. Chris Cumming, from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, reported on the nasty dispute between the Tahmoor mineworkers and their employer, coal multinational Xstrata. Nearly $450 was raised at the rally for the miners.
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.
The March 15 banning of two Socialist Alliance activists, Paul Benedek and myself, from the University of Sydney was revoked on April 9, after vice-chancellor Michael Spence received a storm of protest letters. Among the many who protested against this attack on freedom of speech were renowned journalist John Pilger, 15 professors and lecturers at Sydney and other universities, Sydney City councillors Meredith Burgmann and Irene Doutney, leaders of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), students and civil rights activists.
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.