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Unless the Indonesian government carries out a comprehensive recovery, hundreds of thousands of Merapi volcano eruption victims are certain to face economic and social destruction. “One of the worst impacts of the eruption is the destruction of people’s livelihood; the land cannot be used to grow plants and economic activity virtually stops,” said Agus Priyono after visiting disaster relief centres set up by the Poor People’s Union (SRMI) in Magelang municipality.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a report on the Christmas Island detention centre on October 29, and again called for an end to mandatory detention and offshore processing. The 75-page report detailed the hostile conditions faced by asylum seekers, including the island’s remote location and limited access to essential services such as legal help, health care, torture and trauma counselling and religious support. The report said Australia’s detention system breaches fundamental human rights.
As a former refugee, I can understand and share the concerns of the many Afghan asylum seekers currently facing deportation back to Afghanistan, the very country they had to flee from. This would send them into the hands of the very people responsible for much of the insecurity and threats to the lives and livelihoods of these asylum seekers. It is unbelievable and preposterous.
The government of Papua New Guinea has been awarded Greenpeace’s “Golden Chainsaw” award in response to its corrupt, anti-environment forestry policies. In a report released on October 25, the environmental advocacy organisation said PNG should not be allowed to take part in the controversial Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) carbon trading program until “safeguards for biodiversity and indigenous and landowners’ rights and ending the corruption and illegal logging” are in place.
The National Popular Resistance Front of Honduras (FNRP) received the annual International Herbert Anaya Human Rights Prize in El Salvador, awarded by human rights organisations. The FNRP struggles against the US-backed Honduran dictatorship that came to power in a military coup last year. Gloria Anaya, the oldest daughter of the slain human rights activist for whom the award is named, told Prensa Latina the award ceremony took place during the closing of the Seventh International Congress on Human Rights at the University of El Salvador.
World renowned novelist and global justice activist Arundhati Roy is facing escalating threats of violence in India because of her support for justice in Kashmir — the disputed region partitioned between India and Pakistan and occupied by military forces in the area India controls. Roy faced sedition charges for comments she made about Kashmir at a public meeting in October. The government has since indicated it would not pursue the charge.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced on October 31 the expropriation of steel company Siderurgica del Turbio (Sidetur). The company is a major producer of steel used in the building of homes, bridges and other infrastructure and public works. Chavez also announced government interventions in six large housing developments being built and eight others that are ready for residents to move in. Government oversight has been increased in a further 19 privately-run housing projects.
Men in uniform, mainly young soldiers holding AK 47 rifles, are seen all around northern Sri Lanka, from Mannar in north-west to Mullaitivu, the last battlefield in the north-east. In Mullaitivu, there are said to be more soldiers than civilians. This is the situation in the largely Tamil north of the island one-and-a-half-years after the end of the Sri Lankan Army’s war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were killed by the SLA in the last months of the conflict.
On November 2, the Venezuelan government expropriated the Caracas shopping centre Sambil La Candelaria, Venezuelanalysis.com said on November 4. The government decree said the shopping complex and large parking area would be “transformed into a meeting space for Venezuelans within the framework of a sustainable economy and permitting the development of the exchange of goods and services as well as the development of cultural expression”.
Frank Mugisha, chair of the NGO Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMU), is no stranger to receiving threats because of his sexual orientation, a November 5 Amnesty International statement said. “But when a Ugandan tabloid published his personal details in October and called for him and others to be hanged for ‘recruiting children’”, the statement posted on Amnesty.org continued, “he knew there would be a struggle ahead — on the streets and in the courts”.
At least five Vodafone stores were closed in central London on October 30 by protests, TheGabber.org said that day. The protests were against the British government’s alleged decision to give companies, such as Vodafone, huge tax breaks of about £6 billion at a time when ordinary people are having their benefits cut or taken away.
Republicans are trumpeting their big gains in the November 2 midterm elections as a mandate to turn the country sharply to the right. Don’t buy it. Mainstream media commentary on the election was largely set before a single vote was cast. Voters would correct President Barack Obama’s supposed leftward course in his first two years in office by sending a cabal of right-wingers to Congress. The scale of the Republican victories — especially in House of Representative races, where the party now holds a comfortable majority — cemented the media’s impressions.
See a photo slilde show of the rally here. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Perth for the fourth time this year to protest against the federal government’s same-sex marriage ban. The November 6 rally heard from speakers including Kitty Hawkins representing GALE (Gay and Lesbian Equality), Rebecca Leighton from the Greens and a representative from the State School Teachers' Union.
NUMSA supports the decision taken by Mine Line workers to take-over and run the company since it was long placed under curatorship. The Mine Line company is based in Doornkop, and produces valves for mining machines. Out of fear of paying workers decent wages, its owner Waynerd Mulder declared the company bankrupt in August after reaping the profits generated through the sweat and blood of workers. As a result of this melodrama by Mulder, workers were hardest hit by the company’s non-operation and lost their earnings in the midst of the escalating cost of living in our country.
Matiullah Khan is reportedly illiterate, but he is a very wealthy man. A warlord accused of mass murder, rape and abduction, the June 5 New York Times reported that Matiullah earned US$2.5 million a month through highway robbery, drug trafficking and extortion. The news that members of his private army were training in Australia — revealed by the Sydney Morning Herald on October 29 — exposes the reality Australia’s “nation building” project in Afghanistan by putting a spotlight on a key local partner.
Close to 5000 protesters took to the streets on November 6, demanding the next state government replace the Hazelwood power station with genuinely clean energy during the next term of office. Victoria goes to the polls on November 27. Rally organisers said Hazelwood was the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases per unit of electricity of any power station in Australia. It is responsible for 3% of the nation’s entire carbon emissions. It’s also the nation’s largest emitter of dioxin, the most toxic known chemical compound.

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