In 1987, I visited Libya as a journalist for the left-wing newspaper Direct Action. I visited Gaddafi’s bombed-out home — attacked by the United States one year earlier. In the 1980s, the Gaddafi regime came under attack from the US government because it took an anti-imperialist line and gave financial and material aid to many national liberation movements at the time.
Hidden beneath the spectacular street battles that forced Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak out of office was a trigger that exists in dozens of countries throughout the world — food. Or, more specifically, the lack of it. Commentators have focused on the corruption of the dictatorship, or the viral effects of the Tunisian uprising or what appears to be akin to an Arab political awakening. But the inability of the Egyptian regime to ensure a steady flow of food staples should also be viewed as a critical factor driving this seemingly spontaneous movement for freedom.
On February 22, Muammar Gaddafi boasted on state TV that the Libyan people were with him and that he was the Libyan revolution. His comments came as his dwindling army of special guards and hired mercenaries tried to drown the popular revolution in blood. AlJazeera.net reported on February 21 that civilians were strafed and bombed from helicopters and planes. Snipers with high-powered rifles fired into unarmed crowds.
An angry group of about 20 protesters held a snap action for refugee rights on February 18 outside the Perth office of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). During the protest, Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) members covered the DIAC sign with a new message that proclaimed it “the department of child abuse”. The protesters called for the Australian government to respect the human rights of refugees and put an end to mandatory detention of asylum seekers' children. Several activists held up signs saying “shame”.
More than 100,000 protesters packed Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain's capital, Manama, on February 22, demanding an end to the regime of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. Protester Muhammad Abdullah told The New York Times: “This is the first time in the history of Bahrain that the majority of people, of Bahraini people, got together with one message: this regime must fall.” If the Khalifa family — which has ruled the tiny island nation for 200 years — falls, it could have major implications for the region and world politics.
The Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney has obtained a letter, reprinted below, which was written to the immigration department 40 days after the Christmas Island disaster, by survivors. RAC has welcomed the subsequent government decision to release Seena, the nine-year-old orphaned Iranian boy (and the family that is caring for him), and two other orphaned survivors, but says all survivors must be released. * * * In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful
With revolts taking place in 15 countries across the Arab world, those with stakes in maintaining the status quo — especially the United States — are getting worried. From Morocco all the way to Iran, people are standing up for their long-denied rights. See also: Libya: Western-backed ruler turns on the people Libya: From nationalism to neoliberalism Bahrain: 'The regime must fall'
Refugees pose no threat. They are simply people seeking refuge from wars, poverty, exploitation and/or dangerous climate change. Many come for a better life, for themselves and their families. The rich countries, and the imperialist system of war and exploitation over which they preside, create refugees. Yet instead of helping those forced to seek asylum, they criminalise them.
A History of Now Asian Dub Foundation www.asiandubfoundation.com The artwork for A History of Now, the new album from Asian Dub Foundation (ADF), is a set of iPhone apps. But instead of Apple’s tame applications, the band of British-born Indian genre benders have invented their own parodies. A typical one, named “Instigator”, features a burning bottle and the instruction: “Stuck for a weapon while protesting against government cuts? Let ‘Instigator’ turn your phone into an instant Molotov cocktail!”
I met Ali (not his real name) on my third visit to the children’s detention centre at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Authority (MITA) in Broadmeadows. Ali is a 16-year-old artist from Afghanistan. He has been held in Australian detention for five months — three months on Christmas Island and two months in Broadmeadows.