Two articles are posted below on the historic toppling of United States-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak in Egypt — and on the continuing struggle of the Egyptian people for economic, social and political change. For more coverage, see Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal * * * `We will take five minutes and celebrate, then start building our new Egypt!’ By Jane Slaughter February 12 — Labor Notes
The deepest cuts to Britain’s public spending since World War II were announced in October. At the same time, it was revealed that some of the nation’s biggest corporations and richest people were using legal loopholes to avoid paying tax. The treasurer in the Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government, Conservative MP George Osborne, announced that £81 billion would be slashed from public spending including £7 billion in welfare cuts.
This went up on IS singer Macy Gray's Facebook page on January 17: "I'm booked for 2 shows in Tel Aviv. I'm getting a lot of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians. What the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting, but I wanna go. I gotta lotta fans there I don't want to cancel on and I don't know how my NOT going changes anything. What do you think? Stay or go?"
“We will not be silenced,” shouts an Egyptian protester in one of the many videos posted on YouTube of the uprising against the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship that began on January 25. “Whether you are a Muslim, whether you are a Christian or whether you are an atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights! And we will have our rights, one way or another, we will never be silenced!” This statement sums up the immense change sweeping Egypt. This change is driven by a powerful mass movement that put millions of people on the streets across Egypt on February 4.
“People say to me, ‘You’re still talking about politics?’ and I say, ‘C’mon, life is politics’”, Afro-fusion singer-songwriter Wunmi told Green Left Weekly while she was in Sydney as part of the Big Day Out (BDO) music festival. “We live in an environment where things are constantly happening, how can you not talk about it?” Wunmi has a big name (it’s Ibiwunmi Omotayo Olufunke Felicity Olaiya), big hair, and a big voice — and she was this year’s BDO’s best kept secret.
In her January 26 speech to commemorate Australia Day, Prime Minister Julia Gillard took the opportunity to celebrate what she called the “bonds of mateship”, which had been “on such strong display” in the aftermath of the recent devastating floods. However, this year’s Australia Day celebrations were also marred by violence. This is not unusual. Police made 180 Australia Day-related arrests throughout New South Wales on January 26.
As momentous events in Egypt demonstrate, much of the world is calling to account an “old order”. These are exciting times for the possibilities of real change in the way our societies are run. One of the catalysts of the “people power” we see on our TV screens is the extraordinary disclosure of secret information that tells us how wars begin and governments manipulate and deceive in our name. In the tradition of courageous investigative journalism, WikiLeaks has blown the whistles that alert us to these injustices and lies, serving a basic democratic need.
The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on January 29. ***** The Socialist Alliance applauds the courage and tenacity of the Tunisian people, whose protests for democracy and economic and social justice have ended the 23-year rule of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The Tunisian revolution has inspired ordinary people across the Arab world. Protests have broken out in Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and — most dramatically — against the United States-backed dictatorship in Egypt.
Heavy-handed policing in Sydney over the past few months may indicate a heightened, anti-protester attitude of NSW police. States and territories across Australia have either a “permit” or “notice” procedure for holding protests. NSW law has the “notice” procedure, which is very favourable for those organising protests. The completion of a simple form, given to the police with seven days’ notice, protects activists from arrest for offences like obstructing traffic. This favourable legal situation no doubt frustrates police, who are using more aggressive means to curb protests.
David Kato Kisule, described by The New York Times on January 28 as the father of Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender rights movement, was murdered in his home on January 26. Kato was advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda. The killing came as increasingly violent homophobic tensions continued to escalate in the east African nation. Kato, aged 46, was bludgeoned to death with two blows to the head from a hammer in his Kampala home. The attack was carried out by one or more male attackers.
The Sydney Stop the War Coalition welcomes and supports the protests for democracy and freedom in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere across the Middle East. We stand in solidarity with the Egyptian masses that are struggling for their basic rights against a dictatorship that has been supported for decades by the West. We support the people's right to assemble and their freedom of speech without the threat of repression.
The persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is unfortunately nothing new in the history of Australia or other Western nations. The outward appearance of democratic government often masks a darker, anti-democratic reality. Dissenters and truth-tellers such as Assange, who dare to challenge the official version of events, have been subjected to acts of bastardry in the past. The Australian government’s treatment of Assange today invites comparison with the earlier case of the Australian socialist journalist Wilfred Burchett, who died in 1983.
Seventy-three people who took part in a non-violent direct action protest during December’s Climate Camp appeared in Muswellbrook local court on January 31 to answer to charges under the Rail Safety Offences Act. Hundreds of climate protesters gathered at Climate Camp for five days of talks, debates and discussions on the best ways for the community to stop the proposed expansion of Bayswater coal-fired power station. The station is already one of Australia’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
The federal senate has agreed to an inquiry into the practice of forcible adoption in Australia between the 1940s and ’80s, supporting a motion by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert on November 15. “Today’s vote starts to recognise the suffering that so many people have endured as a result of forced adoption policies,” Siewert said. “There is no doubt that many women were treated very badly as a result of these policies. Young and vulnerable mothers were pressured into adoptions, and often had to surrender their newborn children without being allowed to see them.
Regardless of the outcomes of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, and regardless of whether protests for democracy in Yemen, Jordan and other Arab countries grow into similar uprisings, the Middle East has fundamentally changed. The people have lost their fear. Spearheaded by youth, millions of ordinary people have thrown off their fear of state violence and taken to the streets to oppose poverty, state violence and corruption. Their demands have been for freedom of speech, democratic and accountable government and economic justice.