In a July 7, press conference in Dili, Luta Hamutuk a prominent civil society activist group in Timor Leste condemned the new Australian policy on refugees as "racist". The group also criticised Timor Leste Jose Ramos Horta for giving the proposal by Australian PM Julia Gillard for an offshore processing centre in Dili for asylum seekers coming to Australia.
Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for the upcoming federal election, Sharon Firebrace, has dismissed Labor’s proposal, to send asylum seekers to an off-shore processing centre in Dili, as “another chapter in our country’s racist shame". Ms Firebrace, who founded the Aboriginal Genocide Centre, plans to make both Northern Territory Intervention measures and refugee rights a key part of her election platform.
Last updated July 7: What a difference a month and a change of leadership makes. In late May this year Julia Gillard said that Liberal-National opposition leader Tony Abbott's call for a return to the "Pacific solution" on refugees was just a "slogan not a solution" but now she's PM (with the blessing of mining giants BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata), it has once again become a "solution".
A huge police crackdown on protesters at the June 26-27 G20 Summit in Toronto last week ended in the arrests of hundreds of primarily peaceful activists. Canadian group Socialist Project issued this statement on June 30 in solidarity with the protesters targeted by police. It is reprinted from The Bullet. * * * The massive police presence in Toronto over this week has been officially justified on the basis of protecting the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries meeting in Huntsville and Toronto.
On June 29, the US-based National Labor Committee released a report documenting the illegal and harsh sweatshop conditions at the Jabil Circuit factory in Guangzhou, China. At the factory, more than 6000 workers — many of them illegal temporary workers — produce hi-tech products for US companies HP, IBM, Intel, Cisco and Jabil. The report, which can be read at www.NLCnet.org, found the workers at the Jabil factory work 84 hours a week.
Thirty one Rohingya refugees in a detention centre in Darwin ended their 12-day hunger strike on June 25. They were protesting against the Australian government’s delay in processing their asylum claims, an average of nine months after their boats’ interception.
The June 26-27 Toronto summit of the exclusive Group of 20 club, to which the world’s richest countries invited the heads of state of the major emerging countries, raised great expectations — but it ended as empty as previous meetings As in London in 2008 and Pittsburgh in 2009, the Toronto G20 discussions focused on a way out of the economic crisis. But a capitalist way out — favouring creditors and great powers. For the past two years, global financial regulation has been an elusive sea serpent, unsurprisingly resulting in no concrete measures.
On July 1, striking workers at a Japanese-owned electronics factory in the Chinese city of Tianjin stalled production for a third day and vowed to continue their fight until bosses agreed to better pay and conditions, the Morning Star said that day. It is the latest in a spate of work stoppages to hit foreign transnationals operating in China. Workers have hung large banners outside the factory gate reading: “Human traffickers are not welcome”, “We want a pay rise” and “We want fair treatment”.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) released a statement on June 28 reaffirming its commitment to the Honduran people’s struggle for a return to democracy one year after the coup that overthrew president Manuel Zelaya. ALBA is an anti-imperialist alliance founded in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela. Its members include Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda. Under Zelaya, Honduras joined ALBA, which suspended Honduras’s membership after the coup. The regime has since withdrawn from ALBA.
The Punjab government has been given three months to decide the fate of 68,000 hectares of agricultural land. The land is owned by the government and has been cultivated by tenants for more than 100 years. The tenants have demanded land ownership rights. Despite government promises, the land has not been allotted to them. The three months’ notice was given at the end of a huge peasants rally on June 29 at Okara. The rally was organised by the Punjab Tenants Association (AMP) on the eve of the anniversary of 10 years of the tenants’ struggle for land ownership rights.
In 2006, the Victorian government committed to introducing a “landmark” Climate Change Bill. At this time, there was growing momentum around the world for legislation that would cut greenhouse gas emissions. This momentum was largely in response to the glacial pace of the international climate change negotiations.
The 17th LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite and transsexual) Pride Week ended with a Pride March in Taksim, central Istanbul, on June 28, Bionet.org said the next day. It said more than 3000 people took part. Bionet.org said the crowd, gathered around a huge rainbow flag in Taksim Square, were at first prevented from marching by police. The crowd protested the police action, shouting slogans for about an hour. The police then allowed the crowd to march “without placards or slogans”.
In her opening remarks as Australia’s new prime minister, Julia Gillard said she believed climate change was real and was caused by human activity. What she left unsaid was that she doesn’t believe in doing much to stop it. Former PM Kevin Rudd’s rapid nosedive in the opinion polls coincided with Labor’s April decision to dump its proposed emissions trading scheme until 2013. The scheme itself was radically flawed, but many people still associated it with action on climate change. More than with any other issue, Labor was punished for its perceived backflip on climate.
Iceland’s Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir married her long-time partner on June 27 as a new law legalising same-sex marriages came into force, Telegraph.co.uk said on June 28. On June 12, Iceland's parliament passed legislation allowing gay marriage. Telegraph.co.uk said gay couples could previously enter into civil partnerships with the same rights as married couples, but this had not been considered a formal marriage.
From the standpoint of conventional political analysis, Julia Gillard has had a spectacular start to her reign as prime minister. She wrested the position from Kevin Rudd with minimal bloodshed, announced she was going to neutralise the mining tax controversy by negotiating with the mining billionaires and was rewarded with a dramatic turnaround in the opinion polls.
A nearly two-month-long student strike that shut down all 11 campuses of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) ended in a decisive victory for the students. The students’ inspiring unity, determination and creativity serve as a magnificent example of how to fight and win in the face of neoliberal attempts to balance budgets in this era of global austerity. The strike began April 21 as a 48-hour stoppage at UPR’s main campus of Rio Piedras to protest US$100 million in budget cuts, a sharp increase in student fees and the administration’s unwillingness to negotiate with student activists.