Issue 1236

Australia

A rally against the proposed religious exemptions bill was held in Melbourne on August 31.

The bill would enshrine the right of religious institutions to discriminate against LGBTI people, among other attacks on civil and political rights.

Members of the Kashmiri community and supporters rallied for a free Kashmir on September 1.

Six hundred people braved the cold, wet weather to gather on the steps of Western Australia’s parliament on September 3 and call for choice and compassion at the end of life.

Communities have rallied across the country in support of Tamil refugees Priya and Nades, and their two Australian-born children, who the government wants to deport to Sri Lanka.

Members of Melbourne's tram and bus division of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) are campaigning for a new enterprise agreement.

The development consortium responsible for building Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel has taken inadequate measures to protect workers and the public from toxic contaminants, including asbestos and perfluoralkyl substances (PFAs), according to the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).

Construction of the West Gate Tunnel project is being overseen by a joint venture involving John Holland and CPB Contractors.

The Victorian Labor government is proposing to widen Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway to more than 20 lanes, arguing this would ease congestion on a thoroughfare that resembles a car park during peak time.

Queensland’s Labor government has secretly extinguished Wangan and Jagalingou native title rights over the Galilee Basin in its latest act of fawning support for Indian mining giant Adani.

Support for the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy continues to grow, nearly a month after the Victorian Labor government gave Traditional Owners and supporters two weeks to vacate the protest camp site.

Refugee supporters in Melbourne have rallied four times in less than a week in support of Tamil refugees Priya and Nades, and their two Australian-born children, who the government wants to deport to Sri Lanka.

Diverse communities and voices are protesting across Australia to demand the government let Priya, Nades and their children stay in Biloela.

The Home to Bilo campaign features in this week's Activist Report along with the latest international solidarity and environmental activism.

World

Well-known justice activist Shirley Shackleton managed to interrupt celebrations in Dili marking the 20th anniversary of Timor Leste’s independence to hand a petition demanding Australia end its persecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness K to Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

Shackleton’s husband, Greg, was murdered in Balibo along with four other journalists in 1975. She has never given up the quest for justice.

La’o Hamutuk and other Timor-Leste civil society organisations hosted an international conference in Dili from August 28–30, to mark the 20th anniversary of Timor-Leste’s independence referendum.

Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance or Enhedslisten (United List) announced on July 14 that the governing Social Democrats and Social Liberals parties in Denmark’s parliament had agreed to pass consent-based rape laws, writes Lisbeth Latham.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of London on August 31 to oppose British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to prorogue parliament and force through his Brexit agenda. More national mobilisations have been planned for September 7–8.

Hong Kong's government just withdrew the anti–civil liberties bill that set off huge, rolling protests and convulsed the city for months. But the political crisis is bigger than one measure — and protesters could be emboldened to push for even more, writes Kevin Lin.

Public outrage has prevented the release on “good conduct” grounds of former mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for rape and murder in 1993

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the planned release of Sanchez on August 19, citing a 2013 law that allows for reducing jail time for “good conduct”.

However, according to the same law, “persons charged with heinous crimes”, such as Sanchez, are excluded from jail time reductions.

Luke Cooper reports on his visit to Hungary, a European Union member state where democratic freedoms are no longer taken for granted.

Those who campaign for environmental justice must not allow the white supremacist right to pervert that struggle for their own racist ends, writes Rupen Savoulian.

Tecber Ahmed Saleh is a prominent Western Sahara human rights advocate who was born in a refugee camp in Algeria where her family has lived for more than 40 years. She is currently touring Australia, hosted by the Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA).

She is interviewed by Green Left's Tony Iltis. Video by Zebedee Parkes.

Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) spokesperson, Surya Anta was arrested in Jakarta on August 31 and accused of “subversive” acts in relation to his advocacy for West Papua.

On August 17, Indonesian Independence Day, armed Indonesian police, soldiers and radical Islamic militia stormed a student dormitory in the Indonesian city of Surabaya (on the island of Java), which housed West Papuan students, arresting 43.

In response to the crackdown on activists and protesters in West Papua, which has followed this attack, regional left organisations have issued the following joint statement.

Analysis

Supporters of the right to choose are pulling out all stops against the religious right’s attempts to derail a broadly sponsored abortion decriminalisation bill before New South Wales parliament.

The corporate media have been full of complaints and accusations about Chinese influence in Australia. Author Clive Hamilton claims China is carrying out a “silent invasion” that is eroding “Australian sovereignty”, writes Chris Slee.

An Israeli government-owned military company has joined forces with an Australian firm to produce precision-guided missiles and other equipment for Australia’s military. Supporters of Palestinian rights and anti-war activists must seek to break this contract, writes Mark Govier.

I was stunned to read reports that Peter Dutton’s home affairs department is rife with bullying and harassment. You learn something new every day.

I just assumed any department headed by Dutton would be a happy, friendly place, with puppies running around and flower gardens and lambs and group hugs every hour.

Revelations at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hearing at the end of August that an Aldi shopping bag filled with $100,000 was delivered to Labor’s Sydney headquarters in March 2015 are further proof that a federal ICAC, with a lot more power than its state counterpart, is urgently needed.

A talk presented at the "Socialism Today" seminar in Brisbane on 31 August 2019 by Alex Bainbridge of Socialist Alliance. How can we work out a strategy for socialism based on what we see in the world around us.

The September 20 global Climate Strike is gaining unprecedented support, including from unlikely quarters, including tech companies, university administrations and even the big four banks, writes Pip Hinman.

Jonathan Strauss joined the September 1 vigil in Cairns for the Biloela family of Priya, Nades and their two children and writes about the growing impact of the refugee rights mvement.

Culture

Iconic characters in popular culture such as Sherlock Holmes, Dracula and Frankenstein's monster are in the public domain, allowing anyone to use them to create new stories. Spider-Man should be too, writes Peter Robson.

While it was Afro-American blues music that grew into rock and roll, soul music sprang from the Black tradition of gospel churches. Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly the greatest soul singer of the 60s and this film shows that she never left the church behind.

An image from a medieval translation of Avicenna's Canon

There would have been no Enlightenment without Avicenna and his successor, Averroes – who Bloch sees as forming an “Aristotelian left” trend, writes Barry Healy.