Issue 1206

News

Several activists involved in the protests against the International Mining And Resources Conference (IMARC) 2018 last October had their homes raided and searched by Victoria Police on January 18. They were arrested, detained and interrogated and had phones, computers and other belongings seized.

An online crowdfunding campaign set up to help Aboriginal women in Western Australia avoid jail for unpaid fines has raised $230,000 in its first four days and already settled the debts of 30 imprisoned women, with another 50 expected to be free in coming weeks.

[Please send additional Invasion Day protest and event details to editor@greenleft.org.au]

Adelaide

11am-6.30pm: 2019 Survival Day concert, MacDonald Park, Semaphore Beach
Hosted by Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute
Facebook

The brutal police attack on former Strathfield councillor turned full-time solo protester Danny Lim sparked a snap protest on January 13.

The New South Wales government is robbing communities of precious water by siphoning it off for cotton farms and coal and gas mines. It is doing so as the climate gets warmer and drought becomes more frequent.

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) condemned the Australian Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision at the end of last year in favour of US multinational Alcoa, saying on January 4 it would fight it.

The Dungay Family supported by the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) has invited all to attend a rally on December 29, the third anniversary of David Dungay’s death in Sydney's Long Bay Jail.

Bill Shorten surprised no one with his laughingly tiny reforms at the Australian Labor Party National Conference over December 16–18.

If you expected debate, let alone proposals to stop the Adani coalmine or refugee boat turn-backs or the closure of off-shore detention centres, then you would have been disappointed as these things did not happen.

NSW Supreme Court judge Lucy McCallum discharged the jury on December 6 after it failed to agree on a verdict in the trial of Kurdish journalist Renas Lelikan on “foreign fighter” charges under Australia’s draconian “anti-terrorism” laws.

Adani CEO Lucas Dow’s November 29 declaration that work on a scaled-down coalmine in Queensland's Galilee Basin would begin before Christmas was met with one of the most powerful nationwide protests against it so far as primary and high school students walking out of class the next day for the Student Strike 4 Climate Action.

Ferry workers went on strike on December 6 in a bid to secure a fair wage and job security which, until now, their employer Transdev has refused to guarantee in enterprise negotiations.

The North West Alliance again called on the NSW Coalition government to stop Santos from stealthily proceeding with its yet-to-be approved Narrabri Gas Project expansion on December 4. Santos is laying kilometres of new pipeline to its Wilga Park power station in north-west NSW, allowing it to access gas from exploration wells, royalty free.

Analysis

In recent years there has been an important revival of Invasion Day marches on January 26. Together with the issues of Aboriginal sovereignty and ongoing injustices against First Nations people, Raul Bassi writes that a focus of this year’s protest will be Black deaths in custody.

Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe is a life-long Indigenous activist who among other things helped lead the successful campaign to save Nowa Nowa Gorge in East Gippsland. In the lead up to Invasion Day, Thorpe spoke with 3CR’s Green Left Radio presenter Jacob Andrewartha.

Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi has been held in detention in Thailand since last November 27. He faces the terrifying prospect of being deported to the country where he was tortured.

When talking about climate change, it is assumed that the effects will only be seen 20 to 30 years from now. Some believe this means we have time — that we can afford to meander towards our so-called renewable energy and emission reduction “targets”.

It seems the whole country is discussing pill testing. A simple harm reduction measure, pill testing enables someone to learn what is in drugs they intend to take, which may have been contaminated with potentially deadly substances, and gives them an opportunity to learn how to reduce the chance of any adverse effects of drug use.

On January 5, convicted neo-Nazi criminals Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson, and their followers, gathered on the foreshore of St Kilda beach to vilify Sudanese Australians and once again scapegoat that community as “African gangs”.

A long-running debate over strategy and tactics inside The Greens NSW has resulted in one state MP resigning and three others publicly supporting his campaign as an independent for a seat in the next NSW Legislative Council. The truce inside the party seems precarious, at best, writes Pip Hinman.

Australia is sweltering through another summer heatwave, with disastrous consequences for many vulnerable people. Walgett, in north-west NSW, ran out of water and catastrophic fires are threatening communities in Victoria and Tasmania.

It takes some Orwellian chutzpah to label the Greens NSW anti-democratic. That hasn’t stopped anti-socialist Greens MPs Jeremy Buckingham, Cate Faehrmann and Justin Field from doing just that.

Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi has been held in detention in Thailand since November 27, facing the terrifying prospect of deportation to the country where he was tortured.

The NSW Greens appear to be heading for a split, with the right wing of the party initiating a McCarthyite campaign to purge socialists from its membership.

Reliable research into safe and healthy childbirth is being ignored by maternal hospitals in Australia. 

The latter part of 2018 will be remembered for the re-emergence of climate action on the national agenda.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on November 22 that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was wrongly on its list of terrorist organisations between 2014-17.

As part of #16daysofactivism, a global campaign to highlight gender-based violence, Domestic Violence NSW (DV NSW) hosted a panel of journalists and rights advocates to address the difficulties in reporting sexual assault and domestic and family violence on November 29.

Another stolen generation appears certain to be created in NSW, after the Coalition government passed a new adoption law making it easier for a child to be adopted by a foster family without parental consent.

World

Greek riot police tear gassed protesting school teachers protesting in Athens on January 14, Morning Star Online said. It came just days after the country’s public order minister accused police officers of indiscriminately attacking teachers in similar circumstances.

Thousands of teachers took to the streets to express their anger at the government’s process for hiring new staff in state schools.

Thousands marched through Berlin on January 13 to pay their respects 100 years after the brutal murders of revolutionary socialists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, Morning Star Online said.

Marchers came from across Germany and many countries. They laid red flowers at the tombs of Luxemburg, Liebknecht and other revolutionaries in the Friedrichsfelde Socialist Cemetery in east Berlin.

The 1998 Good Friday peace agreement to end the conflict in Northern Ireland could become unsalvageable, Irish republican party Sinn Fein has said, as Brexit and other unresolved issues continue to shutter the institutions set up under the agreement, Irish Republican News

Thousands took part in the latest round of yellow vest protests in France on January 12 as President Emmanuel Macron announced a national debate in a bid to quell the growing unrest.

More than 84,000 demonstrators took to the streets across the country, a rise on the previous week according to official figures as the movement shows no sign of abating, Morning Star Online reported.

Concessions offered by Macron, including a pause in the fuel tax which triggered the protests and a rise in the minimum wage, have been rejected as protests continued for the ninth week.

In the first 13 days of 2019, there were five major killings in Honduras in what local media are calling massacres, TeleSUR English said. All up, 18 people were killed by gunmen.

The Honduran Attorney General’s office and the national police say they are investigating the rash of murders but no suspects have been apprehended yet.

Brazil’s far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro will seek to classify “invasions” of farmland by landless workers as akin to terrorism, with harsher penalties for the activists, an Agriculture Ministry official said on January 14.

Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), one of Latin America’s largest social movements, seeks to take over unproductive lands in the name of social and economic justice to more equally distribute rural wealth.

Britain’s departure from the European Union without a deal would make a united Ireland and the break-up of Britain more likely, British Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs ahead of a January 15 vote on her government’s Withdrawal Agreement that it has negotiated with the European Union. May dramatically lost the vote by 432-202.

It is the first time May has admitted British rule in Ireland and Scotland could be jeopardised by Brexit.

Brazil is going through a profound political crisis, probably more serious than the military coup in 1964 that ushered in 25 years of authoritarian rule, writes Sue Bradford.

After his election as president in October, the neo-fascist Jair Bolsonaro began selecting his ministers. His most important decision — and one that will probably change the destiny of Brazil for many decades — was to choose Paulo Guedes, an advocate of extreme free-market economics, as a super-minister, responsible for a hugely-expanded finance ministry.

Protesters barricaded roads and burned tires in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, on January 14 after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a huge fuel price hike in a bid to stem a deepening economic crisis.

Cash shortages have plunged Zimbabwe’s economy into disarray, threatening widespread social unrest and undermining Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors sidelined under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

India was brought to a standstill for two days on January 8 and 9 as an estimated 200 million people nationwide took strike action against the right-wing government, Morning Star Online said.

Ten unions affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) called the action after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government rejected their 12-point charter of demands, which included a rise in the minimum wage and measures to boost the economy.

Garment manufacturers in Bangladesh agreed to raise workers’ pay, commerce minister Tipu Munshi said on January 13, urging people to return to work after a week of violent demonstrations, TeleSUR English said

US president Donald Trump announced by tweet on December 19 his intention to withdraw US troops from Syria. This followed a phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had often stated his intention to invade north-eastern Syria. 

When Donald Trump first announced he was running in the Republican primaries for the 2016 election, he signaled that his campaign would rely heavily on anti-Mexican racism, racism against all non-whites, anti-immigrant xenophobia and Islamophobia.

Part of this was his oft-repeated pledge to “build a wall” between the US and Mexico to keep out immigrants from Central America and Mexico. He slandered these migrants as rapists, murderers, thieves, drug dealers, sex traffickers and more.

In regional elections in Andalusia on December 2, the outgoing government of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) was defeated after 40 years in power. Defeat came at the hands of a fractured yet radicalising right and high levels of abstention on the left.

In late December Green Left Weekly spoke to Younis Hamad Birama and Khalid Hassan from the Democratic Consciousness Forum, a Perth-based democratic and secular organisation founded by Sudanese refugees, about the wave of protests sweeping Sudan following the dramatic increase in the price of bread. Despite a brutal crackdown by security forces, including the killing of at least 40 people, the protests have spread an

Street protests have broken out in at least seven cities across Sudan, beginning on December 19, in response to the price of bread increasing nearly threefold. They are rocking the repressive regime of Omar al-Bashir and echoing the protests against austerity and price rises that swept the country in January that were brutally repressed.

Rex Rumakiek

Rex Rumakiek, a veteran campaigner for independence for his homeland of West Papua, lives in political exile in Australia. He serves as secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). On the eve of West Papua Flag Day, an annual commemoration of the declaration of independence by the Free Papua Movement on December 1, 1961, Rumakiek was part of a group that raised the Morning Star flag over Leichhardt Town Hall in Sydney.

Many "yellow vest" anti-government protesters in France vowed to press on with their demonstrations on December 11, a day after wringing out fresh concessions from President Emmanuel Macron. SBS.com.au reported that Macron announced a series of measures the previous night in an address to the nation, including a hike in the minimum wage and tax relief for pensioners and on overtime work.

 In an exclusive broadcast, US-based independent news outlet Democracy Now! broke the media blockade and visited the occupied Western Sahara in the northwest of Africa to document the decades-long Sahrawi struggle for freedom and occupying power Morocco’s violent crackdown.

The Turkish state’s hostility towards the Kurdish people continues, having now escalated its threats against Rojava.

Linda Pearson, anti-nukes activist, says that Members of the Scottish Parliament are effectively profiting from Trident due to the Scottish Parliament’s pension fund investments and that they should re-invest the money into projects which make Scotland a better place to live.

The death of George H.W. Bush has dominated the U.S. news for days, but little attention has been paid to the defining event of Bush’s first year in office: the invasion of Panama. On December 19, 1989, Bush Sr. sent tens of thousands of troops into Panama, ostensibly to execute an arrest warrant against its leader, Manuel Noriega, on charges of drug trafficking. General Noriega was once a close ally to Washington and on the CIA payroll.

Culture

"The issues raised in this film are vitally important: it is a history of the involvement of journalism and the mainstream media in not merely reporting on, but collaborating with, the making of wars," John Pilger, radical filmmaker, journalist and author, told the audience at a showing of his 2010 film The War You Don't See.

The film was part of the Power of the Documentary: Breaking the Silence film festival, curated by Pilger and showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney between November 28 and December 9.