On July 26, radical hip-hop producer Agent of Change released a "beat tape" to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution. Agent of Change, also known as London-based activist and writer Carlos Martinez, said: "The 18 hip-hop instrumentals - with a couple of feature verses from Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela - celebrate Cuban culture, drawing influence and samples from Cuba’s diverse musical heritage."
Support WikiLeaks and Assange Coalition released this statement on July 31. *** The conviction of US Private First Class Bradley Manning for 19 offences, including five counts of espionage, is a travesty of justice. Manning is not a spy who betrayed his country, but a courageous whistleblower who acted on his conscience when he leaked US government documents to WikiLeaks. He should have been commended, not prosecuted, for revealing evidence of war crimes, human rights abuses and corruption.
About 2000 people joined the second march and rally in Sydney on July 28 against prime minister Kevin Rudd's plan to send refugees who arrive in Australia by boat to Papua New Guinea. This was significantly bigger than the previous weekend's protest. Another rally and march will be held on August 4, 2pm at Sydney Town Hall Square. Photos by Pip Hinman and Peter Boyle.
Socialist Alliance released this statement on July 30. *** Newly endorsed Socialist Alliance candidates for the Senate in NSW, Jim McIlroy and Reg Dare, said: "The current hysteria against asylum seekers, pushed by both the Kevin Rudd government and the Liberal opposition, is aimed at drawing public attention away from the real source of economic insecurity in this country — the billionaires and their stolen wealth.
Palestinian teacher and activist Sireen Khudiri, 25, was released from an Israeli prison on July 15 after two months in jail. A court decision was made to release her on bail worth 7000 shekels ($2483). Khudiri is now home with her family. Many people wrote letters and signed petitions to protest Khudiri’s jailing, promoted awareness of her situation or posted or wrote messages of support. It is likely these efforts had an impact in helping free Khudiri.
Millions protesters of were again in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities on July 26, both for and against the former Muslim Brotherhood government. Security forces attacked the pro-Morsi protesters, killing many in a fresh massacre. Ahram Online reported that these were the largest mobilisations since the June 30 protests that brought down the elected, but increasingly unpopular, Muslim Brotherhood-aligned government of President Mohamed Morsi.
Anyone with even superficial experience with how aged people are treated would be disgusted and outraged by the standards of most nursing homes, a result of neoliberal policies in Australia. An investigation by ABC TV’s Lateline on July 15 found many elderly people living in aged care facilities are grossly neglected. Advocacy groups have called it “a national human rights emergency”. The issue typically gets mentioned in the media only when a spectacle is involved, like a fire in a nursing home that costs lives.
The so-called riot that burned down much of the Nauru detention camp began as a peaceful protest by refugees wanting their asylum processing to begin. The July 19 protests by almost all of the 500 men held in the compound “was not borne out of malice,” the Salvation Army said in a statement on July 23. “It was a build up of pressure and anxiety over 10 months of degrading treatment, and a planned peaceful protest that degenerated. It was a reaction to a refugee processing system that is devoid of logic and fairness.”
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said recently that the rising number of Iranian asylum seekers coming to Australia are “economic migrants”. The overall rate of asylum seekers has increased this year and Iranians have become the largest group of people arriving by boat, making up about one third of the total.
Access to affordable housing should be recognised as a basic human right. In a wealthy country such as Australia it should be supported by government policy at all levels, with the planning systems and infrastructure to deliver it. For decades, Australia’s minerals and energy export boom has delivered huge profits. But this wealth has not been distributed equally or fairly. For example, in Western Australia, in the heart of the mining boom, people on lower incomes have been squeezed out of the housing market altogether, and have suffered from reduced access to other services.
Sam Wainwright gave this speech at a refugee rights rally in Perth on July 20. *** A statement by famous British Labour MP and socialist Tony Benn said: “The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.” What he was getting at is that the fear and loathing of refugees is a deliberate concoction. The refugee crisis is real, but the fear and loathing of refugees that’s generated in our media and the general population, is a deliberate and cynical concoction.
This month, Tamils around the world are commemorating the 30th anniversary of a massacre in which an estimated 3000 people were killed. In a week beginning July 24, 1983, Tamils across the island of Sri Lanka were attacked by Sinhalese mobs, while the army and police looked on, or even joined in the attacks. In some cases the mobs were led by government ministers. The July 1983 massacre was the culmination of a series of anti-Tamil riots, beginning in 1956.
In their relentless race to the bottom on refugee policy, the two big parties in Australia try their best to focus the public's attention on a so-called battle to stop the “people smugglers”. This is supposed to justify the policy of indefinitely detaining, torturing and expelling the few thousand desperate refugees who try to get to Australia on leaky boats from Indonesia. But what about targeting the real criminals, the refugee makers?
Julia Hocken interviewed 25-year-old Liam Flenady who is running as the Socialist Alliance candidate in the seat of Griffith, held by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. *** When did you first decide to become an activist and to join Socialist Alliance? I became politically active around 2010, so not very long ago. Prior to that I had followed political issues, and like many people pricked up my ears around election time.
There was standing room only at the Collingwood Health Centre as about 200 people met on July 20 to oppose the East-West tunnel and tollway. The road plan threatens to demolish homes, spew fumes onto a primary school and childcare centre, and destroy wetlands and parks in Melbourne’s west. Yarra councillor and Socialist Party member Stephen Jolly said the campaign was not a lost cause, but a long-term fight. He urged people to look at the legal and political options, as well as mass actions and pickets if work went ahead on the project.
The following motion was passed by Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) executive council on July 26. *** “The VTHC believes refugees should not be punished for fleeing war and persecution to seek asylum. This is a right granted to all people under Australian and international law. “There are over 10 million refugees in the world. “Last year, Australia granted 13,759 humanitarian visas. This is less than 0.2% of the world’s refugees. Australia ranks 12th in the world by GDP, yet we rank 71st in taking refugees by GDP. By any measure, we do not do our fair share.