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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.
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”.
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.
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.
One of Australia’s richest men, mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, used Australian television on October 24 to send an address to the nation about his “Generation One” campaign, which aims to “close the gap” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I don’t have any air-time, but I do have page space. This is my address to Twiggy. * * * Dear Mr Forrest, I think we have something in common (yes, I’m surprised too).
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.
The battle for the planet’s dwindling resources has taken a further trade war twist with China’s recent decision to place limits on the export of the 17 chemical elements collectively known as “rare earths”. These elements, found near the bottom of the periodic table, are crucial for manufacture of a wide range of modern technology products.
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.
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.

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