The activists of the Still Fierce collective are angry, proud and determined to make change happen. The group is organising a protest outside the federal parliament in Canberra on May 11. It will be Australia’s first rally for the rights of intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people. On its website, Still Fierce says ISGD “includes people who may be intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, androgynous, without sex and/or gender identity, and people with sex and gender culturally specific differences”.
Spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs and resident of Mt Nancy Town camp, Barbara Shaw, has disputed claims by Bess Price on ABC Television's Q&A on April 10 about the “success” of the federal governments’ Northern Territory intervention. "It is outrageous that Bess Price can continue to go on national media and spread false information on the intervention while life in our town camps and communities gets harder and harder,” Shaw said on April 15.
Aboriginal rights and queer groups protested outside Glebe Coroner's Court in Sydney to demand an end to black deaths in custody and a new inquiry into the death of transgender Aboriginal woman Veronnica (Paris) Baxter on the 20th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody, April 15. Indigenous Social Justice Association spokesperson Ray Jackson said: "There is one Aboriginal death in custody per month in Australia. The 339 recommendations of the Commission have not been properly implemented by the states — and so the deaths have not stopped."
Shortly after the end of World War I, Australian troops bloodily suppressed a popular independence revolution in Egypt. This overlooked episode in Australia’s military history has never prompted much national soul-searching — but it should. The war in which some 60,000 Australians died was supposedly fought for liberal democratic values and the right of peoples to pursue national “self-determination”. Episodes like the Egyptian revolt suggest that a squalid imperial reality underlay the noble rhetoric, which is why it has been relegated to obscurity.
“Of the 339 recommendations of the royal commission into black deaths in custody handed down in 1991, the first people to receive funding were the police and prisons,” Murri community leader Sam Watson told an April 15 rally to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the commission. “The big bucks went to the cops and the jails. Aboriginal legal services and other Indigenous organisations only got the crumbs. Instead of decreasing the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal people, that rate has increased over the past 20 years in Australia." The rally and march attracted about 100 protesters.
About 200 people protested outside Victorian government offices on April 11 against a proposed new gas-fired power station in Victoria. Five protesters locked themselves to a stepladder inside the building. The company HRL is planning to build its power station in Victoria, and the state and federal governments have committed $150 million towards it. The rally came at the end of the National Grassroots Climate Summit in Melbourne. The protest called for funding to be put toward renewable energy instead.
“Coal is really dirty. Gas is pretty dirty too. It's a bit cleaner than coal,” said City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone as she explained the plan to move to gas-powered energy production at a packed community meeting at St Peters Town Hall organised by Sydney Residents Against Coal Seam Gas (SRACGS) on April 13. Barone agreed that we need to move to a low carbon economy, but said moving to a zero carbon economy, such as the plan set out by Beyond Zero Emissions, would be “enormous”.
I know many Jews feel deeply threatened by the boycott, divestment sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. It feels like a threat to eliminate Israel. For so many Jews, Israel is a guarantee of survival, so BDS is a threat to Jewish survival and ipso facto anti-Semitic.
Environmentalist Bob Irwin, father of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, said he will continue to protest against the coal seam gas (CSG) industry despite his arrest at a protest on April 12. Police detained Irwin along with Queensland Greens spokesperson Libby Connors and Queensland Party MP Aiden McLindon at a protest organised by Lock the Gate at Tara, 300 kilometres west of Brisbane. They were charged with disobeying a police direction. They will appear in court in May.
Sydney's Marrickville council is coming under increasing pressure to overturn a resolution it passed in December in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell has threatened to use his powers under the Local Government Act to sack the council unless the resolution is overturned.
Haiti finds itself with a president-elect with ties to the extreme right — thanks to a concerted effort by foreign powers to continue thwarting the social justice aspirations of the Haitian people. President-elect Michel Martelly is closely associated with the forces that overthrew elected governments in 1991 and 2004. He told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio’s The Current on April 7 that Haiti has been “going in the wrong direction for the last 25 years”.
“Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans,” the Guardian said on April 10. “The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as ‘blessings’ and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry”, the article said.
The Bahraini government has ordered the dissolution of two opposition political parties. The move is part of its crackdown against the pro-democracy movement that broke out in February. The al-Wefaq and al-Amal parties were ordered to dissolve for “threatening peace”. The order is in response to their involvement in the protests that called for the removal of the Khalifah royal family, which has ruled the country for more than 200 years, the April 14 Washington Post said.
In the early morning of April 9, new battles broke out on the streets of Cairo. Protesters fought back against mass repression carried out by the army, leading to two deaths. In a fresh victory for people’s power in Egypt, protesters defeated the crackdown. Protesters were demanding former dictator Hosni Mubarak and all corrupt officials from his regime be charged. Protesters remained in Cairo’s Tahrir Square late into the night before the army moved in.
The question of refugees "is as fundamental a human rights issue as there is", former senator and refugee campaigner Andrew Bartlett told a rally of around 100 in Brisbane on April 9. The rally was organised by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC). Bartlett said refugees "are among the most vulnerable people on Earth. Forcing them to return home to danger is effectively sending them to their deaths.”
Global politics has taken a dramatic turn this year with the uprisings in the Arab world successfully overthrowing dictatorial regimes, and inspiring democracy movements in countries throughout the region. People who are fed up with corruption, repression and low living standards have stood up and fought for their rights and won many gains. What the movements in the Arab world have shown the people of the world is that no matter how strong governments are, people united in struggle can defeat them.