Issue 1037

Australia

On January 21, hundreds of people rallied in Melbourne in support of the ongoing hunger strike on Manus Island.

Katie Roberston, a social justice lawyer said "What is going on in Australia when people in New York are rallying against our human rights abuses. Our government does not respect human rights in relation to refugees and it is getting worse everyday. The Immigration Minister can bring these people back to Australia but he chooses not to."

Fifteen people gathered outside the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Darwin on January 19 to show support for asylum seekers and protest against indefinite mandatory detention.

The vigil was called by the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network.

It was an opportunity to voice concern about the deteriorating health of an Iranian man in detention in Darwin, who had been on hunger strike for more than 50 days, and the ongoing hunger strike, protests and violent clashes inside the Manus Island detention centre.

The statement below was released by Resistance Young Socialist Alliance on January 20.

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Popular concern grows for the well-being of refugees in detention, as more than 700 asylum seekers on Manus Island enter their eighth day of hunger strike, and up to 200 are suffering dehydration.

Witnessing an outpour of reports detailing increasingly desperate acts of self harm, the Australian public stands up to say enough to the torture of refugees, and calls on the Coalition government for compassion.

The statement below was released by Resistance Young Socialist Alliance on January 20.

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Popular concern grows for the well-being of refugees in detention, as more than 700 asylum seekers on Manus Island enter their eighth day of hunger strike, and up to 200 are suffering dehydration.

Witnessing an outpour of reports detailing increasingly desperate acts of self harm, the Australian public stands up to say enough to the torture of refugees, and calls on the Coalition government for compassion.

Aboriginal people and their supporters are converging in Canberra from all over Australia for the Invasion Day weekend. The weekend will feature a "sit-in" that is expected to release an historic Declaration of Independence reaffirming Aboriginal sovereignty in this country.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency has declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded. Other meteorology organisations around the world are on track to confirm this as they process their records over the next few weeks.

This means that 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century.

Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on January 16.

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Manus Island detention centre is engulfed in the largest protests in a year, as more asylum seekers join the hunger strike.

Sudanese asylum seekers in Mike Compound joined the hunger strike protest late on January 15. There are now around 300 on hunger strike in Mike Compound alone, and around 170 in Foxtrot.

A rally was held in Melbourne on January 16 to support refugees protesting in Wickham Point detention centre near Darwin and Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

Many of the asylum seekers are on a hunger strike and it is feared that a 33-year-old Iranian asylum seeker may have only days to live.

The man, known as “Martin”, was on hunger strike for 53 days until December 21. He resumed the hunger strike on December 27, and has entered a critical stage. He may have already suffered permanent organ damage.

January 26 marks Invasion Day and the ongoing fight for Aboriginal rights. Join rallies and events in your city. Check here for details.

Australian roots band Blue King Brown has released their new video which profiles freedom for West Papua. Watch the video All Nations and get involved in the campaign.

Sharlene Leroy-Dyer is an Aboriginal woman who is standing for the Socialist Alliance for the Legislative Council in the March NSW state election. Green Left Weekly's Pip Hinman spoke to her about her interests and why she is standing.

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Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, an Aboriginal woman and descendant of the Wiradjuri and Dharug peoples of NSW, is heading the team for the Socialist Alliance ticket in the legislative council in the NSW state elections.

“I’m standing because neither a Labor nor a Liberal-National government can meet the needs of the community", Leroy-Dyer said.

World

Speakers from the SYRIZA -- the radical left force poised to win Greece's January 25 general elections -- addressed the topic of “How To Recover From Unemployment” and the role of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) in Athens on January 20.

The meeting was addressed by SYRIZA candidates Despina Spanou, Dimitrios Stratoulis and Nazos Iliopoulos, as well Maria Karamesini, a SYRIZA member and economics lecturer at Panteio University.

Maithripala Sirisena has taken office as president of Sri Lanka after winning the island's January 8 election. Sirisena won 51.28% of the vote, defeating incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who got 47.58%.

Seventeen other candidates won 1.14% of the votes between them.

Rajapaksa had been elected president in 2005 and re-elected in 2010. In his first term, he presided over the most brutal phase of the war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Greece will hold elections on January 25, which polls indicate are likely to be won by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which campaigns against the brutal austerity that has caused widespread misery across Greece.

A demonstration organised by a new right-wing movement in Germany against the “Islamisation” of Europe on January 12 drew 25,000 people in Dresden ― the largest such march yet.

However, anti-racist counter-rallies drew 100,000 people across Germany the same night, and 35,000 in Dresden just two-days earlier to reject the racists.

Since October last year, Germany has become increasingly polarised by weekly marches against “Islamicisation by the new right-wing movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA).

The struggles against police murders of African Americans have spread nationally since the events in Ferguson, Missouri last August, when the police murder of an unarmed Black teenager sparked angry protests.

A nascent new movement of Black people is being formed, with young Black women and men in the vanguard.

A racist backlash centring on defense of the police, a reactionary counter-movement, has also developed, which has strong support in the ruling class.

The Basque people have suffered long-standing repression and denial of national rights under Spanish rule, including many jailings of supporters of Basque self-determination.

The Basque nationalist movement is entirely committed to peaceful, non-violent means, with Basque armed group ETA declared a “permanent cessation” of armed activity in 2011. Spanish state repression has not ended, however.

The statement below was released on January 17 by the Basque Peace Process website.

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More than 3.5 million people took to the streets of France on January 11 to support free speech and honour the victims of terrorist attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo and other targets that left 17 people dead, as well as three suspects.

With Greece facing a snap general election on January 25, 2015, there is the genuine prospect of a radical left government coming to power in a European Union country. SYRIZA, a party born from a coalition of Eurocommunists, the far left, social movements and anti-globalisation activists, is riding high.

The general sentiment among SYRIZA officials and activists is that they will win the election and form the next government. The party won the European election in May 2014 and achieved some significant wins at the regional elections.

The day before the huge January 11 demonstration in Paris against the killings at the Charlie Hebdo office, another demonstration marked another set of killings in the French capital.

On January 10, tens of thousands of Kurds and their supporters marched to mark the assassination two years earlier of three Kurdish women activists of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and to protest the French government’s foot-dragging on clarifying the truth about the crime.

Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke with Jacob Rumbiak, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of West Papua -- a government-in-exile of the Papuan terrritory occupied by Indonesia since the 1960s. Its new foreign affairs office is in Melbourne.

Rumbiak is one of five officials of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, a new consultation body set up at a conference in Vanuatu in December.

Malaysia is still reeling from the impact of the worse monsoonal flooding in decades over December and early January. Five people have been killed and the number of people displaced has exceeded the previous record of 100,000 in the 2008 monsoonal season. Ordinary people responded quickly and generously to the floods and civil society groups and individuals pulled together relief campaigns while the government response was slow.

No one can have anything but the profoundest condemnation for the attacks on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. It is reported that 12 people are dead, shot in a commando style attack, and that at least nine of them are journalists.

The magazine has recently published a cartoon of the Islamic state leader, and has a record of publishing anti-Islamic satire. The gunmen are assumed to be in some way connected with Islamic State (ISIS).

The statement below was released by France's Left Front, a left group uniting the Left Party, the Communist Party of France other other smaller left groups, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo that left at least 12 people dead.

About 35,000 people attended the union-called demonstration on the evening of January 7 that the statement mentions. The translated statement is taken from John Passant's blog.

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The European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) is a grouping of left-wing members of the European parliament, which brings together elected reps from the Party of the European Left and the European Anticapitalist Left.

It released the below statement on January 5, ahead of January 25 general elections in Greece that polls indicate the anti-austerity Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) -- part of the GUE/NGL -- is likely to win.

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Greece will hold elections on January 25, which polls indicate are likely to be won by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which campaigns against the brutal austerity that has caused widespread misery across Greece.

Recent organising and demonstrations around the issue of police accountability in Philadelphia, set in motion by grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York not to indict police officers who gunned down unarmed African American men, have taken a new, though rather historically familiar, twist.

The statement below was released by the Party of the European Left (EL) on December 29 after elections were called in Greece for January 25, with the far-left Coalition for the Radical Left (SYRIZA) clearly ahead in the polls.

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Snap elections in Greece: The road of hope has opened!

The defeat of the Greek government coalition in today's final vote for the election of the President of the Republic leads the country to snap elections on January 25.

This month marked the 10th anniversary of the founding of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), an anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal alliance of Latin American countries.

ALBA, which means dawn in Spanish, is a cooperative regional organisation that advances Latin American integration around an alternative to unbalanced neoliberal trade agreements advanced by the United States.

Analysis

Releasing the interim report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption on December 19, employment minister Eric Abetz said the findings showed the decision to hold a royal commission into unions had been “vindicated”.

However, the fact that almost every substantial case examined by the royal commission was already making its way through the legal system, suggests the system is working. A royal commission is a tool government can effectively employ when there is a serious failure by the existing regulatory system.

Lisa Cruickshank, long-time activist, feminist, union stalwart, friend, sister and mother died peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends on November 2.

Lisa lived her life with courage, commitment, determination and love. She once wrote that: “I’m not about to prioritise class v gender v ethnic struggles — if there’s a decent blue going on, it deserves support.”

In the search for a rationale to justify his assault on pensioners, the poor and the welfare dependent, Scott Morrison has reached back to the 17th century work of the English political theorist and philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes published Leviathan in 1651, a work that gave rise to social contract theory. He was an advocate of strong central government, without which, he maintained, life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

1. A GLOBAL CALL FOR CLIMATE ACTION

Last year, more than ever before, people stood up to demand action from world leaders to address the climate crisis. On September 21, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of New York to insist on the need for stronger climate policy and more renewable energy.

2. EUROPE BANS PESTICIDES LINKED TO BEE COLLAPSE

The rate of Aboriginal children removed from their families has increased each year since Kevin Rudd said sorry to the Stolen Generations, and more and more Aboriginal children are being placed with non-Indigenous carers, a new report into Indigenous disadvantage has revealed.

In 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the victims of past policies of forced removal that led to the Stolen Generations, promising that the “injustices of the past will never, never happen again”.

Below is a Charter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights was adopted by the Socialist Alliance in 2013.

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Introduction

It’s 8pm and I’m sitting in the main section of the carriage. A weathered, middle-aged man in a tracksuit and peak hat is swaying around by the doors, muttering. I watch him out of the corner of my eye as he ambles over.

“How’s it going?” He slurs.

“Yeah good mate.”

The train soon shudders to a stop, the doors open and he springs out like some manic racehorse into the night.

NSW Labor has anointed a new leader less than three months before the state election in March. With the ALP trailing Mike Baird's Coalition government in the polls, it must have calculated that it has nothing to lose by dumping former leader John Robertson.

Fee deregulation will be resurrected this year. This gives education activists that general zombie-slayer feeling any sane human gets from fighting a piece of legislation you thought you had killed already.

Last year, fee deregulation was booted out of the Senate, with student boots doing most of the kicking. But it doesn’t want to die and is set to return to parliament, presumably with enough amendments to appeal to the biggest fence sitters.

The Socialist Alliance national conveners released this statement on January 9.

* * *

The Socialist Alliance condemns the massacre of journalists, cartoonists and others at and around the offices of the Paris-based publication Charlie Hebdo.

However offensive anyone may have found some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, this act of brutal violence is not justified.

Joseph Elu, chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority, told Radio National’s PM on January 5 that the islands that have been home to Indigenous people for thousands of years are “being inundated”, right now because of climate change.

“A couple of our islands, the tide rises over the sea walls of the beachfront and it flows under the houses and out the other end ... They’re predicting that in 100 years, then they’ll go under.”

On January 5, with most of the country still in holiday mode, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman called on the acting governor (even the governor was still on holidays) to issue writs for a state election on January 31.

The Liberal National Party (LNP) won government three years ago in a landslide against the Labor government’s privatisation of public assets, reducing the ALP to a rump of seven seats (now increased to nine after two byelection victories).

A bushfire that swept through the Adelaide Hills in early January has destroyed 27 homes, ravaged the local environment and killed many pets and animals.

Large smoke plumes were visible from the Adelaide CBD and several Adelaide suburbs were evacuated.

It is similar to other severe fires, such as in the Blue Mountains in NSW last year and the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009, which climate scientists say will occur more frequently.

Culture

“Australia's probably never had a PM this bad,” Wil Wagner, frontman of Melbourne's Smith Street Band, told Faster Louder on January 13.

Wagner was explaining his band's latest single, succinctly titled “Wipe That Shit-Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face” and released with artwork featuring the prime minister looking extra punchable with an especially shit-eating grin.

Outrage and disbelief met a report in the December 30 Irish Times that British TV station Channel 4 was commissioning a comedy set to the backdrop of the Irish Famine.

The Famine lasted from 1845 until 1852, with more than one million people dying from starvation and disease.

Many of them were buried without coffins in mass pauper graves. Others were left where they dropped for fear of contagion, their mouths green from the grass they ate in desperation.

Left-wing London-based US journalist and author Mike Marqusee passed away on January 13 from cancer, aged 61. Below, radical sports writer and socialist Dave Zirin pays tribute. It is abridged from The Nation.

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Radical journalist Mike Marqusee, the greatest professional influence on my life, has died. Losing Mike is like losing several pints of blood. I’m left dizzy by the prospect of his absence.

Fighting Fund

While GLW was on its break over the New Year period, the news came that a snap election is to be held in Greece on January 25.

GLW has been regularly reporting on the situation in Greece in recent years — the imposition of vicious austerity measures by the European Union and the Greek government and the rising popularity of the left-wing coalition SYRIZA.

As the election approaches, polls put SYRIZA in the lead. It is likely to win, though may have to enter a coalition in order to form government.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

New phase in the Cuban epic

In ther aftermath of freeing of all the Cuban Five prisoners held by the US and the announcement of new openings in Cuba-US relations, Marxist economist Claudio Katz looks at the new wave of economic reforms in Cuba.

Broad opposition movement rises in Mexico