On July 15, 25 Justice Ride participants returned from their trip across Queensland to Alice Springs for the Defending Indigenous Rights convergence over July 6-9. The trip to Alice Springs took four days each way, so there was plenty of time for us to get to know each other, discuss local Aboriginal rights campaigns, such as those against black deaths in custody, and take in Australia’s beautiful and ancient landscape.
In an effort to mitigate the global outrage that followed its May 31 attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, Israel has, ever so slightly, eased its blockade on Gaza. However minimal, this step has only been taken because of the pressure applied to Israel by the international grassroots protest movement. The Gaza aid missions have aimed to alert the world to the criminality of the blockade. In this, they have succeeded — though the price has been heavy: Nine killed (mostly with shots directly to the head and neck) and 700 others violently abducted, detained and abused.
October 12 is the trial date set for a young Cairns couple charged with procuring an abortion. According to Dr Caroline de Costa in a book released this month, Never Ever Again …Why Australian Abortion Law Needs Reform, no woman has previously been charged with procuring her own abortion since the 1899 criminal code was first decreed in Queensland. De Costa believes this could be the first trial of its kind in Australia’s history.
Thousands of republicans from across Ireland gathered on July 20 in Sallins, County Kildare, to honour Theobald Wolfe Tone, known as “the father of Irish republicanism”. Tone led an uprising against British rule and for an Irish republic in 1798. When it was defeated, Tone was sentenced to death.
El Salvador is a country where supermarket prices are comparable to those in developed countries, yet a sugar cane cutter earns $5 a day. This small, predominantly rural, yet densely populated country has a violent history of colonial oppression and the attempted genocide of the indigenous people. More recently, it went through the 1980-92 civil war. “La Lucha” is a phrase you hear a lot in El Salvador. It means “the struggle”.
Ewan Saunders, Socialist Alliance candidate for Brisbane, recently returned from the Justice Ride to Alice Springs. * * * On July 14, after almost 50 hours spent on the road over four days, I, along with about 20 others, rolled back into Brisbane at 11.30pm. The trip back from Alice Springs was the last leg of a two-week Justice Ride that changed the lives of a busload of people, many of whom hadn’t considered themselves “activists” before the bus left on July 1.
A unprecedented mass demonstration took place on July 8 in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesian-occupied West Papua, Straighttimes.com said that day. Thousands of people joined a long march, walking 17 kilometres from the Papua People’s Assembly (MRP) to the Papuan Provincial Legislature (DPRP) to reject the “special autonomy” granted by Indonesia in 2001. Protesters demanded a referendum on West Papuan independence and an internationally-mediated dialogue with Jakarta.
On June 28 last year, democratically-elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a US-backed military coup. Zelaya had upset US and Honduran corporate interests with policies such as blocking privatisation, increasing the minimum wage and joining the anti-imperialist Latin American bloc led by Venezuela and Cuba, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). But it was Zelaya’s decision to grant a demand of the social movements and begin a democratic process towards rewriting Honduras’s pro-elite constitution that led directly to the coup.
Recent moves by the Venezuelan government, which now claims almost 50% of the shares in a pro-coup TV station and revoked the concession of another, represent new steps towards reclaim the media for the people. The moves came as US-Venezuelan writer Eva Golinger revealed on July 15 in a Chavezcode.com post that recently declassified documents showed the US State Department has funded opposition media to the tune of more than US$4 million.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered a maximum alert on Venezuela’s border with Colombia after the administration of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused the Chavez government of harbouring terrorists and running terrorist training camps on July 22. Uribe’s government gave a shameful presentation before member states of the Organisation of American States (OAS) on July 22. It was similar to former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 “weapons of mass destruction” Power Point evidence to the United Nations Security Council to justify the war in Iraq.
Alarm bells should be ringing as the threat of war looms on the horizon, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned in his July 18 weekly column. The warning came after tensions again flared with neighbouring Colombia, and the Central American nation of Costa Rica agreed to 6000 US troops being deployed on its soil. Chavez placed Venezuela on high alert and broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after a July 22 meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Victorian Electrical Trade Union (ETU) members have voted resoundingly to disaffiliate from the Australian Labor Party. In a ballot of ETU members on whether the union should remain affiliated to the ALP, 85% voted against affiliation. Nearly 44% of ETU members voted in the ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission. This is the first time in many years a union has disaffiliated from the Labor Party, and possibly the first time a union has conducted a ballot of members on the issue.
Joe Glenton, the British Army Lance Corporal who refused to return to fight in Afghanistan, was released from military prison on July 12. Glenton was jailed in March after going absent without leave from the army in 2007. He had previously spent seven months in Afghanistan as part of the US-led military occupation. He campaigned against the occupation, speaking at an anti-war demonstration in October. Glenton was greeted by about 30 supporters and dozens of reporters outside the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester, Counterfire.org said on July 13.
When right-wing billionaire Ricardo Martinelli was elected Panama’s president in May 2009, political commentators heralded it as a sign that Latin Americans were becoming disillusioned with the “pink tide” of progressive and leftist governments. But one year later, the Martinelli government is facing a wave of resistance to its anti-labour and anti-union laws. Resistance has grown in the face of deadly repression.
Anti-war campaigners have challenged British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to act on his belief that the invasion of Iraq was illegal by making sure those responsible were tried for war crimes, including former PM Tony Blair. Clegg, from the Liberal Democrats, shocked his pro-war Conservative Party coalition partners on July 21 when he declared the US-led invasion “illegal”. Clegg was standing in for Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron for prime minister’s questions in parliament.
Chasing the Lollyman Presented by deBASE Productions State Library of Queensland, Brisbane
“Move them along!”, referring to police strategies to deal with loitering Aboriginal people on Australia’s urban streets, was a phrase parodied to hilarity by Mark Sheppard during his acclaimed one-man show, Chasing the Lollyman, which ran at the State Library of Queensland during NAIDOC Week.