Thailand Troubles said on September 19 that a motorcade of 150 vehicles made their way from Bangkok to Chiangmai for a rally of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), popularly known as the Red Shirts, that was expected to draw 10,000. A growing crowd of Red Shirts gathered since morning around Ratchaprasong Intersection, the site of the April-May mass protest camp of Red Shirts that was bloodily repressed by the military on May 19.
The statement below was released by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition on September 20. VILLAWOOD IN CHAOS AFTER SUICIDE AS HUNGER STRIKES AND PROTESTS CONTINUE The suicide of a Fijian man facing deportation from the Villawood detention centre this morning has thrown the detention centre into chaos. The Fijian man died after throwing himself from the roof of a building in stage 2 of the detention centre.
Fresh claims have emerged that an Indonesian “counter-terrorism” unit that receives Australian funding and training has perpetrated human rights abuses against independence campaigners in Maluku and West Papua.
Chiang Mai, in Thailand’s north, is considered to be a stronghold of the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement the popular name for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship — UDD). On August 29, 21-year-old local Red Shirt activist “James” Krissada Klaharn and his girlfriend Nongnuch Kampor were driving home at about 1.15am after a long day selling popular stickers at a roadside stall, when the killers struck. A vehicle with its headlights off pulled alongside and sprayed their cars with bullets. Krissada was hit in the legs, abdomen and shoulder.
Despite several symbolic gestures by state and national governments, no real plan has been put forward to reduce chronic inequality in Aboriginal Australia. As part of a deal to set up a minority government, the federal ALP has agreed to a referendum to change the constitution so that it recognises Aboriginal people. On September 8, the NSW parliament passed legislation doing the same for the NSW constitution.
Indigenous Mapuche political prisoners in Chile continue to stand firm, more than two months into a hunger strike against the repression against their people and the militarisation of their lands. The hunger strike, which began on July 12 and has been joined by four opposition parliamentary deputies and a dozen activists from student and social organisations, is the latest step in the campaign by the Mapuche people to demand the repeal of anti-terrorism laws.
On September 10, the players of the Serie A — Italy's top football league — declared they would strike on September 25 and 26. AC Milan defender Massimo Oddo, speaking on behalf of the Italian Players' Association (AIC) and the captains of all 20 Serie A clubs, made the declaration as a dispute over the renewal of the collective agreement for the game's top players intensifies. Serie A is trying to replace the old collective contract — which ran out on June 30 — with one that strips players’ rights in order to maximise profits for football clubs and their owners.
After the April 20 Deepwater oil well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, many commentators have tried to explain why it happened. Many blame greed and arrogance in BP’s executive offices. Others blame it on the military-oil-government alliance that views free-flowing oil (and free-flowing oil profits) as something to promote at all costs. But some writers identify a different cause. Bonus-seeking executives, corrupt politicians and oil-hungry generals all played a role, but they were only front men for the real villains — consumers.
Comparisons must be made between the impact of the September 5 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the quake that hit Haiti in January. In Haiti — with a population of about 9 million — about 250,000 people died in the earthquake. According to government figures, 200,000 were injured and 1 million were made homeless. Eight months later, disaster still grips people’s lives. Fortunately, but in staggering contrast, no lives were lost in New Zealand, although the earthquake was of a similar — but slightly more powerful — magnitude (7 on the Richter scale).
On September 2, direct talks began between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority with the US government acting as mediator. US President Barack Obama has declared the success of these “peace talks” to be a main foreign policy goal of the last two years of his term. But whatever their outcome, the talks cannot end the conflict because both sides are not evenly represented. The mediator, the US, is the major financial, political and military sponsor of one of the parties to the conflict, Israel.