Breaking story (last updated June 25): Socialists and progressive trade union and social movement activists have reacted sceptically to the leadership change in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) federal government of Australia. Julia Gillard displaced Kevin Rudd as PM on June 24 after a surprise leadership challenge that came into the open the night before. She became the country's first woman PM. Wayne Swan replaced Gillard as deputy PM.
Labour history was made when New Zealand had its first shopping mall workers strike on May 25. Workers in JB Hi-Fi in Albany, organised by the militant Unite union, went on strike for better pay and against a culture of bullying and intimidation against union members. Workers at JB Hi-Fi haven't had a pay rise in 3 years, and now earn only 75c more than the new minimum wage. JB Hi-Fi is making record profits - up 29% this year to an estimated NZ$140 million.
A press conference was held on June 23 behind NSW Parliament House calling for an inquiry into 34-year-old Veronica Baxter’s death in custody. Activists presented 500 signatures to NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale who undertook to present them to the New South Wales Parliament. On March 10, 2009, three days after Mardi Gras,Veronica Baxter was arrested by Redfern police and held on remand at the all-male NSW Silverwater Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre. Six days later, after a 14-hour break between checking her cell, she was found dead, hanging in her single cell.
On June 15, around a 1500 people, representing nearly every union, gathered outside Adelaide Magistrate's court for the first day of a week of rallies supporting construction worker, Ark Tribe, in his battle to defend himself against the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).
Stop wasting lives - get our troops out now! Socialist Alliance statement June 22, 2010 The Socialist Alliance today renewed its call on the Rudd government to withdraw all Australian troops from Afghanistan in wake of more Australian troop casualties and a poll showing that a majority of Australians support such a withdrawal.
A wave of rallies and marches commemorating World Refugee Week has begun to sweep across Australia. On Sunday June 20, people came from all over Melbourne as well as Ballarat, Geelong and other regional areas for the rally, indicating that refugee rights networks are being re-established. Given the rain, organisers were happy with the size of the rally, between 1000-2000. This has been the biggest protest in support of refugees for several years. Rallies also took place in Canberra, Perth (200) and Brisbane (300) over the weekend.
The murder of international peace activists on the Gaza flotilla by Israeli commandos marks a turning point in the international standing of the state of Israel. Even though we witnessed the horrific violence in Lebanon in 2006 and then in “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza in 2008, Israel has largely been able to count on the support of the Western alliance and its clients in the Arab world.
Kiama Municipal Council will sign an open letter to the NSW government calling for no new coal-fired power stations. Greenpeace, who initiated the letter campaign, says the NSW government plans to approve two new coal power stations in Lithgow and the Hunter Valley. If built, they would spew over 20 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution into the atmosphere each year. Kiama Deputy Mayor, and Greens candidate for Gilmore, Ben van der Wijngaart moved the resolution, which was carried only after Mayor Sandra McCarthy, an independent, used her casting vote in favour.
Reza Shahabi and Saeed Torabian, two executive committee members of the Trade Union of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, have been arrested and are held at unknown locations. Shahabi, treasurer of the union, was arrested on June 12 as he clocked in at work. Four security agents then took him to his home. After a search, they confiscated his computer. Torabian, the union’s public relations officer, was arrested at his home in Tehran on June 9. Security agents also tried to arrest union member Habib Rezapoor but he was not at home.
Two days after the flotilla massacres on May 31, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt announced in response to mass demonstrations in Cairo and across the world, that Egypt was opening the Rafah border crossing, breaching the siege of the Gaza Strip that holds its 1.5 million people in a stranglehold. Hundreds of Gazans flocked to the southern-most border of the coastal enclave. Many were left waiting on the border for days, denied entry to Egypt.
Myself and eight other people were arrested at the gates to Swan Island defence intelligence training base near Queenscliff in Victoria on June 16. We did this to protest the Australian government's continued participation in the occupation of Afghanistan. Our day began with 40 people outside the Geelong Magistrates Court showing solidarity with the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective who were on trial for entering Swan Island in March. Despite pleading guilty to the charges of trespass on Commonwealth land, the magistrate dismissed their charges on the grounds that their cause was justifiable.
Israel stands increasingly isolated following its attack on the peace flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara were murdered and many more wounded. The attack on the flotilla, like the siege of Gaza, is aimed at demoralising Palestinians and their supporters. But the global pressure was enough to force Israel to announce a token relaxation of the blockade of the 1.5 million people crammed into the tiny coastal strip.
Ethnic violence against the Uzbek minority in the southern Kyrgyz cities of Jalalabad and Osh has created more than 400,000 refugees and internally displaced people. The official death toll is more than 200, but Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva told the June 16 Washington Post that the real figure may be 10 times higher. Otunbayeva came to power in a mass uprising in April against former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who himself came to power through extra-parliamentary means in 2005. Before Bakiyev fled, his security forces killed 75 protesters.
“[We are] saddened by the mixture of politics and sports.” So said a spokesperson for the Israeli Football Association in response to news on April 31 that the Turkish under-19 soccer team cancelled its match in Israel. Turkey's team made the move following the Israeli Navy's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that left at least nine dead and scores injured. Then on June 1, the Swedish Football Association (SFA) announced that it would formally request European soccer's governing body to cancel Sweden's under-21 game in Israel on June 4.
On June 15, something amazing happened: British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the British army shooting Irish people. “It was wrong”, said Cameron, after a government inquiry found the British army was responsible for the killing of 14 unarmed civil rights demonstrators, seven of them teenagers, in the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry. On January 30, 1972, up to 30,000 people marched in Derry, in the six Irish counties occupied by Britain, to demand an end to internment, a policy that allowed for the jailing of people without trial.
Green Left Weekly has won a victory in its free speech struggle at Brunswick’s Barkly Square shopping centre. Management stopped our stalls in late November and offered us a completely unacceptable deal. We began our defence campaign in late February and over the next three months it developed considerable momentum. The response from shoppers was warm and extremely heartening. About 1000 people signed our petition. People were clearly outraged at the ban and concerned at the ongoing privatisation of public space.