Issue 1188

Australia

The Tamil Refugee Council has reported that asylum seeker Thileepan Gnaneswaran, who was deported on July 16, separating him from his wife and 10-month-old daughter, was arrested on unknown charges on arrival in Sri Lanka and later released.

His wife and daughter were both granted safe haven enterprise visas on July 11, two days before Gnaneswaran was issued with a removal notice after his claim for protection was rejected. Their separation will almost certainly be permanent as her visa does not allow for family reunion and she cannot return to Sri Lanka.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has called on the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to investigate the role of intelligence services in the bugging of East Timor's cabinet rooms while the two nations were negotiating a deal on accessing offshore oil deposits. Wilkie has the support of Tasmanian Greens Senator Nick McKim and South Australian Senators Tim Storer and Rex Patrick.

A “Homes not Prisons” event in Fitzroy on July 18 attracted more than 100 concerned public housing residents and community members from across Melbourne to the Atherton Gardens public housing precinct.

The aim was to highlight the staggering inequity of expenditure by state and federal governments on prisons compared to public housing for the vulnerable in the community.

Months after missing its March deadline for financial closure on its Carmichael mine and rail project, Adani has relaunched its PR offensive with claims its finances are almost stitched up.

In an interview on July 17, Karan Adani, son of the company’s owner Gautam Adani, told Indian TV it was now finalising the rail project’s financing.

More than 300 truckies, their families and supporters protested around the country on July 16 to demand an end to the pressure in the industry that is killing hundreds of people on the roads every year. In the past 12 months, 184 drivers have been killed in truck crashes.

After 12 days on strike, workers at Laverton Cold Storage voted on July 6 for their first union workplace agreement.

Emma Kerin from the National Union of Workers told Green Left Weekly that the striking workers had voted unanimously to return to work after endorsing a new EBA that includes significant gains for the workers.

Activists can see the light at the end of this very long tunnel, and are pushing for the Queensland parliament to vote to legalise abortion rights.

“We call on the federal government to scrap the [NewStart Allowance] ‘demerit points plan’ and stop demonising the unemployed,” NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon told a public forum at UnionsNSW on July 4.

The forum was hosted by the national and Western Sydney branches of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU). The AUWU is conducting a nationwide campaign, called “Dump Your Demerit Points”, to educate members on how to fight back against this punitive system.

Bus drivers employed in Victoria have been forced to take strike action — the first in 20 years — because of the bosses' ridiculously small wage offer.

A series of toxic tar sands oil pipelines are set to be built throughout North America. They are an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

Hundreds of students attending the Students of Sustainability (SOS) conference, together with activists from Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) and Disarm Universities occupied three sites in Melbourne on July 11 to highlight corporate, government and university complicity in the cycle of war, climate destruction and abuse of refugees.

World

Indonesia has repeatedly fire-bombed a highland village in West Papuam, where indigenous Papuans have lived for thousands of years, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) said in a July 16 statement.

The Washington insider crowd was absolutely outraged and appalled by Donald Trump’s performance at Helsinki, Juan Cole notes, as he violated all the principles of American hawkishness.

Trump sat next to Vladimir Putin, leader of a rival power, signaling that Russia is a peer. He sided with Putin over the assessments of the CIA, the National Security Agency and other US intelligence organizations.

Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, approved the controversial nationality bill on July 19 declaring Israel a nation-state for the Jewish people and downgrading the status of Arabic from official language to “special status”, TeleSUR English reported. Arabs make up 21% of Israel’s population.

The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) is an umbrella group of left-wing organisations in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran that adhere to the ideology of Kurdish revolutionary leader Abdullah Ocalan (known as “Apo”), currently in jail in Turkey. Forces associated with the KCK have helped lead the Rojava Revolution in Syria’s north, which marked its sixth anniversary on July 19, the day Kurdish-led forces staged an insurrection.

Donald Trump is the rallying symbol for the new nationalist hard right globally. Andy Stowe writes that his visit to England and Scotland on the weekend of July 13and 14 was an opportunity to gauge just how much he is loathed.

It was a test of strength between the left and neo-fascist right in Scotland as well as several English town and cities. It was a big victory for the left.

US President Donald Trump made a fool of himself when he stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that’s not the only thing he did in Europe. An editorial in US Socialist Worker, abridged below, says the left needs to keep its eye on the deeper threat.

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MOVIMENTU KONTRA OKUPASAUN TASI TIMOR (MKOTT)

Public Statement on the prosecution against Witness K and Bernard Collaery by the Australian government

Díli, 20 July 2018

July 5 marked the final breaking point between the increasingly right-leaning government of Lenin Moreno and his leftist predecessor, Rafael Correa, writes Denis Rogatyuk from Quito,

In the aftermath of Turkey’s June 24 elections, “won” amid fraud and intimidation by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the alliance between his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Muhsin Yorulmaz takes a look at the post-election climate.

Candlelight vigils were held in Colombia and cities around world on July 6 to demand an end to the political violence that since January has cost the lives of more than 125 social leaders in the South American country.

Political violence against social activists has risen in recent years despite the signing of a peace accord between the government and the leftist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to Colombia’s Ombudsman, more than 311 political murders have been registered since the accords were signed in November 2016.

Colombia’s authorities seem unable or uninterested in curbing the wholesale slaughter of the country’s social leaders that has occurred since a peace process came into force, with nine leaders being murdered in the last week of June alone.

The violence is threatening Colombia’s peace process that not only sought the demobilisation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but also the increased political inclusion of the left and minorities in general.

Manjib is an ethnically diverse city in northern Syria. In 2014, it was occupied by ISIS (also known as Daesh). In 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, an alliance of armed groups supporting the model of grassroots democracy associated with the Rojava Revolution) had liberated the city.

Emel Dede is one of the Manbij Turkmen women who lived under the Syrian regime first, and then the Free Syrian Army and Daesh. She has been working for two years now for her future and the future of Manbij. She talked to Bêrîtan Sarya and Axin Tolhildan about this.

Haiti exploded in early July in a nationwide uprising whose Kreyòl watchwords are nou bouke — we are fed up, writes Kim Ives.

Two Palestinian children were killed on July 14 as Israel intensified its bombing of the Gaza Strip that it began that previous night, The Electronic Intifada said. The health ministry in Gaza named the victims as 15-year-old Amir al-Nimra and 16-year-old Louay Kuhail. The ministry said the children were killed by an Israeli missile that hit the al-Katiba area of Gaza City.

"A day after an estimated 250,000 Londoners swelled the city streets and Trafalgar Square to tell President Donald Trump that neither he nor his worldview were welcome in U.K.," Jon Queally wrote on Common Dreams, "the people of Scotland on Sunday also took to the streets to let the U.S.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn joined the mass protest against Donald Trump in London on July 13  where he said the message to the U.S. president was a call for a "world of justice not division."

Speaking from Trafalgar Square to an enormous crowd after hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of London, Corbyn praised those gathered for "asserting our right to free speech and our right to want a world that is not divided by misogyny, racism, and hate."

Demonstrators say "Trumpism directly threatens steps towards tackling" inequality, peace and disarmament, climate change, discrimination, and corporate greed, writes Jessica Corbett.

Hundreds of thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators took to the streets of London and in separate protests across the Britain on July 13 in a massive and historic show of opposition to a sitting US president.

Analysis

The Australian Border Force is an authoritarian and undemocratic body that does not serve the interests of ordinary people in Australia. It should be abolished.

Five years since the reopening of the refugee torture centres on Manus Island and Nauru, the results are clear. Refugees have suffered cruel and unusual punishment which has: not saved lives at sea, not “stopped the boats” and not benefited ordinary Australians.

After 25 years, it is clearer than ever that privatisation of electricity in Australia has been a disaster for people and the planet.

In the early 1990s, prior to privatisation, energy prices in Australia were some of the lowest in the world and had been dropping for decades. That trend was sharply reversed following privatisation. Today, households are paying skyrocketing prices and growing numbers of Australians are now living in “energy poverty”.

REJECTING ROOM”, screamed the front page of the Herald Sun on July 6, in a very clever pun on North Richmond’s safe injecting room that had opened a few days earlier.

“Addicts snub injecting facility” and “Nothing changed in heroin hotspot” sat above the main cover slogan to emphasise the point about ungrateful “druggies”.

In this age of neoliberal cut-backs and privatisations, the NSW Teacher's Federation is fighting back to maintain and extend the gains it has won over many years.

In recent weeks the coal lobby has launched a renewed propaganda offensive, including Pauline Hansen offering support for Coalition tax legislation in exchange for a new coal-fired power station in North Queensland and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott calling for government funding for new coal-fired power stations. 

Like all colonial societies, Australia has secrets. The way we treat Indigenous people is still mostly a secret. For a long time, the fact that many Australians came from what was called "bad stock" was a secret.

"Bad stock" meant convict forebears: those like my great-great grandmother, Mary Palmer, who was incarcerated at the Female Factory in Parramatta, near Sydney, in 1823.

Establishment media are rife with speculation that senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese may be preparing for another tilt at opposition leader.

Albanese has stated he is not.

But you never know what to believe in these days of revolving door leadership swaps, where pragmatism has replaced principle in both the major parties.

Njabulanj Helen Williams, a Kunibídji woman of the Wurnal clan, lived most of her life in Maningrida, about 500 kilometres east of Darwin in Arnhem Land.

She was born in 1956 on Mardbalk (Goulburn Island). Her father, a pastor, relocated from Goulburn Island to Maningrida when the Japanese threatened to invade during World War II. As a child, she travelled back and forth in a dugout canoe, “Ibidjbat”, on the Liverpool River between Maningrida and the surrounding coastal homelands.

It was a cold and blustery day in Sydney on June 23 when poet Candy Royalle laid down her warrior gloves and breathed her last. The queer, Arabic, literary and protest worlds bowed their heads in shock and lamented her loss.

Candy was a proud Palestinian-Lebanese queer woman and an electric poet and performer. She was ferocious on stage, offering audiences a heady mix of lesbian sexual liberation and searing anti-colonial orations.

Culture

Triumph: Jesse Owens & Hitler’s Olympics

Jeremy Schaap

Head of Zeus, 2014

272 pages

He may have been the world’s greatest athlete at the time, writes Jeremy Schaap in Triumph, but Jesse Owens was also a Black American. Therefore Owens, the winner of four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was refused a room at hotel after hotel on his arrival back in New York, until a agreed on condition that he use the service entrance.

World Cup organisers FIFA and its corporate sponsors market their products to the members of the LGBTI community by presenting themselves as allies and advocates for their struggles. But this is questioned by its holding of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and giving the rights to the 2022 event to Qatar.