United States President Barack Obama’s visit to El Salvador on March 22 became a focal point for protests. Protests were organised that day by Central American social movement organisations and their North American allies outraged by US trade policy and military meddling in the region. Local environmental and community organisations joined with allies such as US-El Salvador Sister Cities and Committees in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador to mobilise students and workers for rallies in the US and El Salvador on March 22.
The United Nations Security Council voted on March 19 to approve a military intervention into Libya, with 10 votes in favour and five absentions. It was presented as a response to calls from besieged rebels fighting the Muammar Gaddafi dictatorship for a “no-fly zone” to protect them, especially in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The rebels also said they opposed “Western intervention”.
The situation inside every one of Australia’s refugee detention centres has grown dangerously volatile. Just days after the Christmas Island breakout and subsequent protests, nine refugees climbed on the roof of a detention centre in Darwin after watching the assault of another refugee on March 15. Two days later, a 20-year-old Afghan man hanged himself with a bedsheet at the Scherger detention centre after his refugee application was rejected.
Greetings from prison in Zimbabwe On behalf of the Medical Professional and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe, a trade Union that organizes workers in the private Medical sector in Zimbabwe, I wish to express our heartfelt appreciation of the camaraderie you extended to Zimbabwean Comrades who were coldheartedly incarcerated and charged with treason by the ZANU PF regime for merely watching heroic actions by our brothers and sisters in the North part of Africa that dealt with tyrants. We are humbled by your determination to see Zimbabwean working class free.
Prominent British columnist George Monbiot announced in the British Guardian on March 21 that he now supports nuclear power. That isn't a huge surprise — having previously opposed nuclear power, he announced himself “nuclear-neutral” in 2009.
“Commanders in Afghanistan are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered by the publication of ‘trophy’ photographs of US soldiers posing with the dead bodies of defenceless Afghan civilians they killed”, said the March 21 British Guardian. The photos, compared by officials in NATO’s occupying forces to the infamous Abu Ghraib pictures depicting US soldiers torturing Iraqis, were published by German newspaper Der Spiegel.
Power worship is what the corporate media does best, and there has been plenty of that on display in recent Libya coverage. Donning his “white man’s burden” hat, Peter Hartcher, in the March 22 Sydney Morning Herald, responded to the United States/European Union bombing by saying: “To the relief of millions in Libya and millions more around the world, the West has unsheathed the sword against [Gaddafi’s] resurgent forces.” Such comments are the background noise that has lent a veneer of legitimacy to the West’s imperialist adventures since the end of the Cold War.
There has been intense activity in 2011 around the social and community services pay equity wage case pursued by the Australian Services Union (ASU) and four other unions. The claim, which was lodged in March 2010, is rapidly approaching its conclusion. Since late January 2011, there has been: • A new round of site visits, during which members of the Fair Work Australia tribunal hearing the case visited public sector workplaces to see how the work compared to that in the non-government sector.
A crowd of 200 people marched on the US consulate in the Perth CBD on March 22 to protest the invasion of Bahrain by Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) soldiers to suppress the democracy movement in the country. Bahrain’s popular uprising threatens to follow the examples of Tunisia and Egypt, and topple its Western-backed authoritarian regime. Chanting outside the US consulate, the protesters — many from the local Bahraini community — made clear the hypocrisy of the US.
On March 20, 1500 people marched in Tokyo opposing nuclear power in the aftermath of the nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima that followed the devastating March 9 earthquake. Protesters also opposed the imposition of fiscal austerity by the government in the face of the earthquake disaster. Activists have also staged speak-outs at the offices of Tokyo Electric, which runs the Fukushima plants, and government offices.
“As rain poured down last night, I thought I can’t possibly go this morning, but then I got on WLCentral this morning and Daniel Ellsberg has been arrested in his 80s outside the White House, so we can brave a little rain!” These were the thoughts of one local activist at a Sydney rally in support of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning on March 20. The rally was part of an international day of action called by Bradleymanning.org and Courage to Resist.
Isn’t it marvellous that all these governments are determined to do “something” about Colonel Gaddafi? For example Hillary Clinton said she supported military action once the Arab League — made up of countries such as Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia — backed air strikes. And it is encouraging that the policy of not tolerating a dictator has the backing of so many dictators.