Issue 1050

News

Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia released this statement on April 25. *** Organisers of the undeclared Frontier War’s parade condemned the actions of the Australian Federal Police during the Canberra ANZAC day parade for refusing to allow 200 Aboriginals and their supporters to peacefully march up ANZAC Avenue to lay a wreath to commemorate all those who died in wars, including those who died in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century Frontier Wars defending their country.
About 100 people rallied against the Geelong Star super trawler in Adelaide on April 26. The crowd gathered at Port Adelaide to oppose the 95-metre long factory ship which protesters say will hurt recreational fishing and damage the marine environment. The rally then marched to Birkenhead Bridge and dropped a large banner that read “Stop the Super Trawler”.
About 80 people gathered at the Eight Hour Day monument opposite Melbourne Trades Hall on April 24 to commemorate the second anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. In the collapse, 1139 garment workers are known to have died, with others still missing.
Two examples of development proposals that put profit before people and the environment in Far North Queensland appear to have suffered defeats.
NSW Liberal Premier Mike Baird is likely to be called before the parliamentary inquiry into the state government's proposed privatisation of the "poles and wires" of the state's electricity industry in May. Baird will be questioned over allegations of government tampering with an expert report on the planned leasing of the power industry before the recent March state election.
This open letter to the Minister of Social Services, Scott Morrison was released on April 20. * * * On behalf of the many Australians who believe in the importance of a fair and equitable welfare system, we the undersigned write to voice our strong objections to the harmful and damaging legislation currently before the Senate, which would introduce a six-month waiting period for unemployment benefits for people under 30. We also wish to highlight our concerns over the government’s decision to introduce harsh requirements from 1 July 2015, which will:
Wiradjuri man Ray Jackson, socialist, and indefatigable fighter for a better world has fallen. At 73, he died peacefully in the evening on April 23. He had been in hospital for pneumonia a week before his death. Uncle Ray was stolen from his mother at the age of two, and placed with a white family when aged about three.
Dear Indigenous Social Justice Association Sydney, It is with great sad news that ISJA Sydney writes to inform you all of the passing of our Comrade Ray Jackson president and founder of the Indigenous Social Justice Association Sydney and long time socialist activist organiser for Aboriginal rights, justice for all deaths in custody and other social justice issues. Last night, on April 23, Ray was found in bed by his granddaughter and it seems he died peacefully in his sleep after the regular ISJA meeting last night.
Gas company Metgasco has won its case against the state government to reinstate its drilling licence at Bentley after it was suspended last year. However, Justice Richard Button said that while the suspension process undertaken by the government was not lawful, the judgement did not reflect the merits or otherwise of the suspension itself. Metgasco’s licence was suspended in May last year after a large community campaign against its plans to drill for unconventional gas at Rosella, about 15 kilometres from Lismore.
The State Bank of India had reneged on a $1 billion financing agreement for Adani’s Galilee Basin coalmine. The loan was agreed to five months ago to help finance mining giant Adani’s plan to develop the Carmichael mega coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. This is the 12th global investment bank to publicly walk away from the proposal in recent months.
The University of Sydney has ramped up its bullying of students and staff who interrupted a lecture by a visiting Israeli colonel last month. Several students who took part in the protest were sent “show cause” letters on April 15. Others had been summonsed to interviews about the protest. Mia Sanders, one of the students who took part in the protest action, told Green Left Weekly: “Vice chancellor Michael Spence is, once again, showing contempt for the university’s own charter by trying to silence dissent”.
The campaign against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities continues with a second international day of action on May 1. The campaign is being coordinated by #SOSblakaustralia movement. Information below from #SOSblakaustralia. ADELAIDE SA 12pm-4.30pm, Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga, Adelaide.
Perth's rally against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities on April 23 began peacefully like any other. True, there were more police there than was necessary, but not enough to indicate the scale of intimidation and recklessness that was to come.
As New South Wales is experiencing some of the strongest winds and rain in several years, the Redfern Tent Embassy is holding fast against strong winds and relentless rain. Redfern locals, and activists have banded together over the past few nights to keep the activist spot at the Block running. The embassy was erected in protest of the Aboriginal Housing Company’s plans to develop on the site , placing th cheap and affordable Aboriginal housing the Block has previously provided.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released this statement on April 20. *** More than 100 Ahwazi Arabs from across the country converged on Canberra to protest at the Immigration department and at the Iranian embassy on April 20. The Ahwazi are a persecuted minority in south-west of Iran; the most oil-rich region. Ahwazis are denied the right to education in their own language. April 15 marks the 10th anniversary of the peaceful Ahwazi intifada against forced displacement, discrimination and persecution of the indigenous Arabs by the Iranian regime.
The Refugee Action Collective Melbourne released this statement on April 20. *** Prime Minister Tony Abbott's refugee bashing is not working for him at the polls, but if the Coalition is kicked out what policies will replace him? Tragically, Labor party leaders continue to support both offshore processing and mandatory detention. Labor for Refugees, with the backing of many unions, will be proposing a resolution to change Labor policy at this year's ALP national conference being held in Melbourne on July 24 to 26.
More than 200 people attended a public forum called "Resistance Rising: A Panel of First Nations Leaders" at the Brunswick Town Hall in Melbourne on April 18. The forum was jointly sponsored by Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance and the Indigenous Social Justice Association. Co-founder of Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance Meriki Onus told the audience: "The system is constantly knocking at our door. The system destroys us or takes our children."
We are writing to alert you to what we believe can be described without exaggeration as a serious threat to civil and political liberties on campus. You will have seen the recent emails from Michael Spence about the “misconduct” proceedings the university has initiated against both an academic staff member of the university and against students.

Analysis

The fight against the WA government’s widely unpopular decision to close a number of remote Aboriginal communities and force Aboriginal people off their land received a further boost this week with news that activists are set to converge on the state. The Grandmothers Against Removals, a group established to respond to the continued Stolen Generation enforced by the current and previous federal governments, will converge on Perth on May 26 to lend a hand in the fight against the closures.
Sometimes Australians feel like we're not always taken that seriously on the world stage, viewed only as producers of crocodile hunters, B-grade soaps and prime ministers with a bizarre taste in raw onions. So it's good to know we are finally being presented as a model for other nations to follow.
In 2013 the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (OCAE) was commissioned by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and Cruelty Free International to produce an independent review of the ethics of using animals in research. The BUAV is not a neutral bystander in the debate about animal testing, but it was prepared to commission independent academic research on this topic. OCAE was founded in 2006 to pioneer ethical perspectives on animals. The centre is independent, and is not under the aegis, control or sanction of the University of Oxford.
A new report on unconventional gas development from the federal Department of Industry and Science has been released. Its stated aim is “to ensure the responsible development of coal seam, shale and tight gas resources for the benefit of Australians and position Australia to remain an energy superpower”. In order to achieve this, the report notes at the outset that state governments, and Indigenous landowners will need to be dealt with – though the report uses prettier words.
We live in a time of growing inequality between the rich and poor, when the environment is being destroyed to the point of threatening our very existence, because of a system that prioritises profit. Here are 10 reasons why socialism is the way forward to solve society’s problems. 1. THE DESTRUCTION OF CLASS DIVISION Under capitalism, people are divided on the basis of class. There are the 1%, who own the wealth and the means to produce wealth, and the rest of us, the 99%, who sell their labour to produce profit for the 1%.
More than 200 heavily armed police raided five homes in south-east Melbourne on April 18 to arrest five teenagers for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on Anzac Day. Two were held in custody and charged under “anti-terror” laws, one was charged on summons for weapons offences and two were released without charge. Family and neighbours of those arrested said that the raids were carried out with unnecessary violence.

Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to "support" the homelands.

The Socialist Alliance stands in full solidarity with the burgeoning movement against the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities in WA. This movement can win and if it does it will be a victory for all working people in Australia. Without any consultation, the federal government announced in September that they would cut funding that, for more than 40 years, had been provided to support these communities. The state government, equally contemptuous in their lack of consultation, then announced that up to 150 communities would have to close.
Maria Voukelatos, a passionate socialist and animal liberation activist, died suddenly and unexpectedly on March 26. Nothing suggests she took her own life. While the cause is still unknown, her death at home in Sydney was likely quick and painless. She was 37.
Politicians, both Labor and Liberal, have spent years defending this county’s pitiful efforts on tackling climate change with the excuse that Australia “can’t go it alone” — it has to wait for other countries to commit to action on climate change. The same excuse was often echoed in the media. In particular, the lack of action by the US and China were cited as the reasons why Australia should commit to doing little or nothing.
The second national day of action against the WA government’s policy of closing remote Aboriginal communities will take place on May 1. Protest actions have been planned in about 60 places around the country: from remote communities in WA to all capital cities, and in a number of cities overseas. (See here for a list of these actions.)

World

The United Front is a new organisation in South Africa initiated by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) that held its first People's Assembly in December under the slogan “Kwanele Kwanele!” (Enough is Enough!)

Three British oil companies are violating Argentine law by carrying out exploration efforts without permission from the state, Argentina says. Argentine Minister of Malvinas said on April 17 that an Argentine judge will soon open the prosecution against three British-based oil companies conducting exploratory activities in the Malvinas Islands, and possibly two others from the US. The Argentine government has stated that foreign companies are violating Argentine law by carrying out exploration efforts without permission from the state.

Oil giant Chevron Corp is fighting to avoid paying compensation awarded to about 30,000 Ecuadorean citizens severely affected by the dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste in the Amazon. Chevron called on a US appeals court on April 20 to stand by a US court decision last year that ruled the US$9.5 billion compensation package awarded by an Ecuadorian court had been secured fraudulently.

The United States is threatening the small Central American country of El Salvador with financial repercussions for supporting Venezuela's campaign for the repeal of US sanctions against the country. The left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) government of Salvador Sanchez Ceren, together with all of countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, has called on US President Barack Obama to repeal his executive order declaring Venezuela to be a “threat” to US national security.

Cuban President Raul Castro casts his ballot in April 19 municipal elections. Photo: Granma. More than 7.7 million Cubans out of 8 million registered voters cast their ballots on April 19 to elect nearly 12,600 delegates out of about 27,000 candidates to the country’s Municipal Assemblies, TeleSUR English said the next day.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will continue its unilateral cease-fire, as long as the Colombian armed forces suspends all military operations against it, TeleSUR English said on April 20. FARC representatives made the commitment at peace talks in Havana with the Colombian state, which aim to end the decades-long civil war that has wracked the South American nation.

Saudi Arabia’s month-long aerial offensive against Yemen resumed on April 22, one day after the Saudi regime announced it was over. Yemen is undergoing a humanitarian crisis, with millions of Yemenis lacking basic access to food, clean drinking water and health care. The Saudi bombardment has only worsened the plight of the Yemenis, with schools destroyed, hospitals and healthcare facilities targetted, and electricity supplies cut off. Basic infrastructure is being shattered, threatening a catastrophic health crisis for Yemeni residents.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), campaigning groups and labour-supporting members of the European parliament launched protests this month about the continued harassment and jailing of trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow has noted that, in Swaziland, “Violations against the fundamental rights of workers have become systemic”.

Nearly one million children in Nepal are in urgent need of aid after a catastrophic earthquake struck, leading children's charity UNICEF warned Sunday. At least 940,000 children are living in areas badly affected by the 7.9 magnitude tremor, which has killed over 3,200 so far. ​According to the charity, supplies of food and water are dwindling, electricity is down, and hundreds of thousands of people are sleeping out in open areas out of fear of strong aftershocks, which have further impeded rescue efforts.

In April last year, the government of the Marshall Islands announced it would be taking nine nations — China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Britain and the US — to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague over their possession of nuclear weapons. The Marshallese have paid a heavy price for other countries’ nuclear weapons. After World War II, they were incorporated into the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands administered by the US.

Results for Sudan’s parliamentary and presidential elections, held between April 13 and 15 and extended for a further day after low voter turnout, will be announced on April 27. Yet no one doubts the return to government of President Omer al-Bashir and his National Congress Party.
“Too many people have already lost their lives in the Mediterranean sea, more than a thousand this week, which is a major crime against humanity,” The Party of the European Left (EL) said in a April 20 statement. “We need to stop it immediately!” The EL, a group made up of left-wing parties from across Europe, said: “We reject any attempt to solve the so-called 'migration problem' by an increased militarisation.”
A central pillar of the Spanish economic and political establishment came crashing down on Paril 16. Rodrigo Rato, former deputy prime minister in the 1996-2004 People’s Party (PP) government of Jose Maria Aznar and head of the International Monetary Fund from 2004 to 2007, was detained on suspicion of tax evasion, concealment of assets and fraud.

About 800 refugees were drowned in the Mediterranean on April 18 when a boat carrying them from Libya, and trying to reach the south of Italy, capsized. Just three days earlier, more than 400 people drowned when another boat on the same route sank. Refugee deaths in the Mediterranean are rising sharply. “According to the UN and the International Organisation for Migration, 1,776 people are dead or missing so far this year, compared with 56 for the same period last year,” the April 24 Guardian reported.

Culture

Massacre is an explosive theatre work about the politics and violence of East Timor. Produced by Stone/Castro (Australia) and Colectivo 84 (Portugal), it features John Romao as “Timor” and Paulo Castro as “East”. They work with “weapons of grotesque, sarcasm and a thrash metal soundtrack to create a scenic, hypnotic and dangerous game. The mutant metamorphosis of Australia, Indonesia and Portugal make for an in-your-face confrontation to the East Timor crisis.”

A Short History Of Social Democracy: From Socialist Origins To Neoliberal Theocracy By John Rainford Resistance Books $20, 184pp. The rise and then fall of social democracy as a movement for fundamental social change is a modern tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It is one of the epic stories of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Here's this month's radical record round-up, including a response to the "Reclaim Australia" rallies. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

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Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

'People are capable of governing themselves' Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton spoke to Dave Holmes about her work as a local councillor in Moreland, a municipality in Melbourne, Australia. Bolton was elected in 2012 on a campaign slogan of “community need not developer greed”, which she says “struck a chord with residents”. Marta Harnecker: From Allende to Chavez