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.
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."
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.
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.
Mass stopwork meetings of NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) members on July 24 resolved that: "Public health system nurses and midwives will escalate their community and workplace campaign to convince the NSW government that the nursing hours/ratios system should be extended to more clinical areas, and improved to guarantee the same minimum levels in all hospitals in NSW.
Since it was founded in 1948, the Israeli state has neglected the rights of Palestinian children, who have been deliberately ill-treated. Many Palestinian children have been killed, injured, jailed, tortured or used as human shields by Israel.
A former Tehran University student, Behzad Bargheri, spoke to 50 people at a public meeting on Iran on July 20. Bargheri told the meeting in Melbourne that during the 1980s the Islamic Republic regime took “harsh and bloody measures” to suppress the left. Many thousands of leftists were arrested, tortured and murdered. The universities were closed for several years. When they reopened they had been purged of leftist students.
The Beyond Nuclear Initiative and Uranium Free NSW released this statement on July 25. *** On July 25 and 26, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering held a conference in Sydney titled “Nuclear Energy for Australia?” The conference might be framed as a question but the answer is predictable given that the majority of keynote speakers were from organisations in favour of developing a nuclear power industry in Australia, including industry representative bodies and pro-nuclear think tanks.
The WikiLeaks Party formally announced its Senate candidates on July 25. Three candidates will be standing for the Senate in Victoria, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, author and Monash University gender studies lecturer Leslie Cannold, and RMIT law lecturer Binoy Kampmark. Two candidates will stand in the Senate in NSW — human rights lawyer Kellie Tranter and former diplomat Alison Broinowski. Another two candidates, refugee activist Gerry Georgatos and president of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance Suresh Rajan, will run for the Senate in Western Australia.
US military lead prosecutor Major Ashden Fein summed up his case against Bradley Manning for "aiding the enemy" with these chilling words: "He was not a troubled young soul. He was a determined soldier with the knowledge, ability and desire to harm the United States in its war effort. "Your honor, he was not a whistleblower, he was traitor." We totally disagree. Manning witnessed a terrible crime and he reported it to the people of the world using the most effective available news medium — WikiLeaks.
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.