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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".
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.
The New Way Summit, held in Melbourne over July 1-4, brought together around 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from about Australia to discuss the issues confronting the struggle for Indigenous rights. A big focus of the summit was on the issues of genocide, sovereignty and treaty. This was the third in a series of New Way Summits. The first one took place in Canberra in January. The summit was successful in bringing together indigenous activists from Darwin, New South Wales, Queensland, regional Victoria and Melbourne, as well as non-Indigenous supporters.
On June 1, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) announced an end to its 13-month unilateral ceasefire. Since 1984, the PKK has waged an armed struggle against the Turkish state for Kurdish self-determination. A day earlier, imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan announced that he was withdrawing from negotiations. He cited a disconnect between the Turkish government’s promised reforms and continued violent repression of Turkey’s Kurdish population.
At dawn one year ago, on June 28, soldiers invaded the home of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica. It was a frightening throwback to the days when military men, backed by a local oligarchy and often the United States, could overturn the results of democratic elections. It would also turn out to be a pivotal moment for relations between the US and Latin America. A new generation of left-of-centre governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela were all hoping for a new relationship with Washington.
Leichhardt Friends of Hebron can be very proud of the Festival of Friendship for Hebron it held over June 25-26. The event raised more than $5000 for a kindergarten in the impoverished village of Um al Khair in the South Hebron hills. It also won a significant political victory over the ban the previous Leichhardt Council administration placed on a Palestinian photo exhibition two years earlier.
The head of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA said on June 24 that the government is to nationalise 11 oil rigs previously operated by a US petroleum firm. This comes after the company, Helmerich & Payne, closed down production and refused to negotiate a new services agreement. PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez said the nationalisation would “boost domestic production of hydrocarbons and strengthen the policy of full oil sovereignty”.
Italy reeled under the impact of a general strike on June 25 as trade unionists and their allies took to the streets to defend the welfare state against the Berlusconi government’s plans to slash public spending by about $36 billion. Transport workers led the action. Bus, tube and rail services were paralysed for four hours throughout the country. Airline employees, car workers and public-sector staff joined major demonstrations in Rome, Milan, Bologna and Naples.
The following statement was released on June 27 by the group Palestinian Queers for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions – an international campaign to isolate Israel in protest against its treatment of Palestinians). Support for the BDS campaign has grown significantly since Israel’s massacre of peace activists on a boat taking aid to Gaza on May 31. * * * Palestinian Queers for BDS call upon all queer groups, organisations and individuals around the world to boycott the apartheid state of Israel.
Despite freezing weather, 30 people took part in a community speak-out against racism on July 2 in Newtown, in Sydney’s inner-west. Initiated by the Socialist Alliance, speakers included Greens deputy mayor of Marrickville Fiona Byrnes, refugee rights activist Saradha Nathan, Ellouise Davis from the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Hadi Zaher, Reverend Dave Smith from the Hold Trinity Church in Dulwich Hill, Peter Robson from Stop the Intervention Coalition and Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Grayndler.
The statement below was released by Asian left groups on June 25. To add your organisation’s name, email international@socialist-alliance.org. * * * Israel stands increasingly isolated after its manufactured confrontation on May 31, 2010, with the peace flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara were murdered. So now is the time to increase the pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza.
Seven oxygen machines donated to the Palestinian Authority by a Norwegian development agency were seized by Israeli officials, Ma’an news agency said on June 25. The Ramallah-based PA health ministry said the machines were en route to hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank. The ministry said in a June 24 statement that Israeli officials confiscated the machines, claiming the generators attached “came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes” if they were delivered to Gaza.
The statement below was released on July 2 by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF), a global trade union federation. Visit IUF website for more information and to send the Coca Cola Company a message that violence, dismissals and pressure on workers to prevent trade union rights and recognition are criminal acts. * * *

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