Nine refugees held in the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin staged a protest on top of a building in the centre’s compound on March 15 after they witnessed Serco guards assault another detainee. The refugees — who are Rohingya people, an ethnic minority in western Burma — told refugee advocate Carl O’Connor on March 16 that the protest was sparked by a physical assault on another Rohingya detainee. “One man was refused rice in the mess room,” the refugees said. “Out of frustration he broke a glass. He was then chased down and tried to escape from two Serco guards.
As the United States and Britain look for an excuse to invade another oil-rich Arab country, the hypocrisy is familiar. Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is “delusional” and “blood-drenched”, while the authors of an invasion that killed a million Iraqis, who have kidnapped and tortured in our name, are entirely sane, never blood-drenched and once again the arbiters of “stability”. But something has changed. Reality is no longer what the powerful say it is. Of all the spectacular revolts across the world, the most exciting is the insurrection of knowledge sparked by WikiLeaks.
Emboldened by the successes of Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya, a number of Arab regimes have escalated crackdowns on pro-democracy protests while the world’s media was focused on the earthquake disaster in Japan. With the exceptions of Libya and Iran, the governments brutally cracking down on their citizens have received minimal criticism from the West. Calls for “restraint on both sides” obscure the fact that it is governments armed with weapons made in the West ruthlessly attacking mostly unarmed people.

This video is from a protest by homeless people on 14-4-11 in response to plans by the state government to sweep homeless people off the street during the October CHOGM summit.

After waiting many months for a decision regarding their visas, several asylum seekers held on Christmas Island received rejection letters on March 16 from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. In the early hours of the next day, between 50 and 150 asylum seekers broke through iron gates and escaped the detention centre. Though the private Serco guards immediately tried to catch the escaped detainees, they were largely unsuccessful.
About 2000 mainly young Palestinians rallied in Gaza City on March 14. Waving Palestinian flags, they called on Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to end their divisions, for democratic elections for the Palestinian Authority (PA), and for the end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and siege on Gaza. Thousands more marching across Gaza the next day and 8000 people protested in Ramallah in the West Bank for the same demands.
Radiation clean-up workers.

How have Australian scientists handled the difficult task of keeping us informed about the unfolding nuclear disaster in Japan? Only a few Australian scientists have featured repeatedly in the media.

“Ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid” is how one US official described the treatment of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning. Manning, a private in the US army, has been held in solitary confinement for nine months at Quantico Marine Corps Brig while awaiting a pre-trial hearing. Breaking government ranks, spokesperson for the US State Department PJ Crowley criticized on March 10 the reported mistreatment of Manning. This mistreatment has included Manning being forced to strip and remain naked in his cell.
Facing public anger and concern over the nuclear meltdown unfolding in Japan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced temporary shutdown of several nuclear reactors. On March 12, more than 60,000 anti-nuclear protesters in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg formed a 45 kilometre human chain from Stuttgart to the Neckarwestheim 1 nuclear plant. Smaller protests took place in more than 450 towns and cities across Germany, anti-nuclear organisation Irradiated said. More protests are planned for March 26.
Having now come across several leaflets, statements and interviews arguing that the NSW Greens have put former NSW Construction Forestry Mining Energy secretary Andrew Ferguson’s election at risk on March 26 and urging people to therefore vote 1 ALP, I feel compelled to write the following. Many people know Andrew as a committed campaigner for just causes. However, if Andrew is not elected on March 26, the blame will lie with the current right-wing, anti-worker ALP government. Worse, it will be Labor’s fault that after 16 years the Liberals could return to government.
Waving the Libyan flag.

While I agree with most of the sentiments expressed in Peter Boyle’s article on Libya in GLW #872, I think the Left must always be flexible and practical.

About 8000 people marched on the Western Australian parliament on March 15 to demand more local jobs from the resource export boom. The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Maritime Union of Australia all mobilised big contingents for the protest. Manufacturing employers also supported the rally. Local workshops are sitting idle while billions of dollars of infrastructure is being imported for the mining and offshore oil and gas industries.