Issue 625

Australia

Twenty people attended a vigil and BBQ outside Melbourne's Maribyrnong detention centre on April 23. The vigil, organised by the Australian Democrats, was addressed by Democrats Senator Lyn Allison, Margarita Windisch from the Socialist Alliance
Alex Bainbridge, Hobart On April 17, 1000 people rallied at the Southport Lagoon Conservation Area, south of Hobart, to protest against logging at Recherche Bay, the site of French landings in 1792 and 1793 that have tremendous historical
SYDNEY — The discriminatory nature of police discretion has been shown again in the latest NSW crime statistics for 2002-04. Released on April 17 by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the figures show that "offensive language" charges
Sarah Stephen, Sydney On April 22, Sereana Naikelekele and her three young children were released from Villawood detention centre on a bridging visa, after spending almost three years behind razor wire. The Federal Court had decided a week
Thousands of people marched in cities and towns across Australia on April 30 and May 1 to mark May Day. Rally speakers pledged to resist the federal Coalition government's planned attacks on unions and workers' rights. A wide range of unions, left
Ron Perkins, Perth After almost two months of strike action, maintenance workers at Wesfarmers' Premier Coal in WA's south-west appear close to winning their demands for better conditions. A sudden change in attitude from the company has broken
Susan Price, Sydney Unions NSW secretary John Robertson used an April 28 May Day toast to announce that Unions NSW will organise a cross-union delegates' Sky Channel meeting in Sydney on May 27, followed by an all-in members' Sky Channel meeting on
SYDNEY — A new report by Melbourne academics has documented the brutality of police forces around Australia and successful legal actions in response. The 148-page report, Civil Litigation by Citizens Against Australian Police between 1994 and
Susan Austin, Hobart Sixty people attended a pro-choice public forum in Hobart Town Hall on April 27. The forum was organised by the International Women's Day collective, and sponsored by the Fertility Control Clinic, Gynaecology Centres Australia,
Sue Bolton, Melbourne On March 23, a Victorian Trades Hall Council mass delegates' meeting voted to hold a stoppage and mass protests against the Coalition government's anti-union laws on June 30. The meeting also called on unions in other states
BRISBANE — Surrounded by placards stating "no child deserves abuse" and dolls with horror stories of abuse written on them, protesters gathered outside Queensland parliament on April 26 in a demonstration organised by Survivors of Institutional
DARWIN — A protest against a new uranium mine in Kakadu National Park was held outside the Northern Territory parliament on April 26, to mark the expiry of the five-year moratorium on mining company negotiations with the traditional owners of the
Andrew Hall, Canberra The effect of detention on the mental health of refugees and asylum seekers was the topic of a public forum organised by the ACT Refugee Action Committee (RAC) on April 28. It was attended by 135 people. Guest speakers, Dr
Jon Lamb, Darwin After many months of campaigning, teachers in the Northern Territory have won a better pay deal than that originally offered by the NT government. Following a conciliation meeting of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission
Kathy Newnam, Darwin As the case against the NT government and three prison officers for the murder of Douglas Scott in Berrimah prison on July 5, 1985, draws to a close, the depth of the cover-up surrounding his death has been exposed. The case,

World

Sarah Wagner and Gregory Wilpert interviewed Aristobulo Isturiz, Venezuela's education minister, for Venezuela Analysis. This is abridged from the full interview, available at <http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1421>. How
Rohan Pearce The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for the US government to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the role US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former CIA head George Tenet played in the torture of detainees
Michael Shaik In mid-April, Palestinian farmers in the hilltop village of Jayyous transported their newly harvested lemons to Nablus on a journey that used to take an hour but now takes between 9 and 10 hours, along a series of improvised dirt
Alison Dellit A little more than a year after US Marines kidnapped democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and installed opponent Gerard Latortue as an "interim" prime minister, the world's fourth poorest country remains in
Stuart Munckton A public fight has erupted inside the Movement for a Fifth Republic (MVR), the party of socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, over issues of internal democracy. According to an April 25 Venezuela Analysis website report, the
Manuel Urena & Alison Dellit On February 24, 1.2 million people marched through Mexico City, protesting the politically motivated prosecution of the city's mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is a leading contender in the presidential elections
On April 21, Cuban President Fidel Castro announced an increase in the minimum wage to 225 pesos (US$9.40) a month, up from 100 pesos now. The increase will affect 1,657,191 workers, most of them working in agriculture, the service sector, the food
Activists from the Australian or New Zealand anti-apartheid movements are invited to contact Peter Limb (<limb@msu.edu>) about a new history of the international anti-apartheid movement to be published in South Africa. He will be visiting
On April 21, the United Nations Human Rights Commission rejected a Cuba-proposed resolution calling for an "impartial and independent fact-finding mission" into human rights abuses at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. The 53-state body voted the
On April 27, Rose and George Gentle, the parents of British soldier Gordon Gentle, who killed in Basra last year, announced they were launching action against British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the British High Court, because of his participation
Rohan Pearce The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, to be held in New York May 2-27, is likely to be used by the Bush administration as a platform for more shrill denunciations of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, probably
Stuart Munckton The Venezuelan government has "unexpectedly" ended a 35-year-long military exchange program with the United States. Associated Press reported on April 22 that it had been told by an anonymous official from the US embassy in Caracas
GI Special is an online publication at <http://www.militaryproject.org>. It reports resistance events, especially those within the US armed forces. Green Left Weekly's Niko Leka spoke with GI Special editor Thomas Barton. What started you
This is abridged from a statement delivered by Cuban foreign minister Felipe Perez Roque to the UN Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva on March 17. The Commission on Human Rights has lost legitimacy. It is not credible. It allows the impunity
Sue Bull Few participants at the Third Asia-Pacific International Solidarity Conference, held in Sydney on March 25-28, could have failed to notice the enthusiastic presence of a small, dynamic Indian woman. Whether she was singing "We Shall
Doug Lorimer "In city after city and town after town, security forces who had signed up to secure Iraq and replace US forces appear to have abandoned posts or taken refuge inside them for fear of attacks" by Iraqi resistance fighters, the April 23
Thomas Nguanyi, a prize winning journalist with the BBC World Service and a founding member of the Cameroon Association of Commonwealth Journalists, has gone into hiding in Britain, after his asylum application was rejected early this year. Nguanyi
Eva Cheng As Washington's scaremongering about the "threat" posed to the Western world by China's economy has been broadened to include painting Beijing as a military threat, Japan is emerging as one of the US's regional bullies. During the last
On April 28, the Venezuelan Supreme Court began processing an extradition request to the US for Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban-born Venezuelan citizen. Posada Carriles is one of the most notorious anti-Cuban terrorists. He is wanted in Venezuela for
Simon Cunich The demands of the workers at Venezuela's valve producing company, Constructora Nacional de Valvulas, were met on April 27, as President Hugo Chavez signed a decree to nationalise the company. This signing came days after the workers
Belgian humanitarian agency Medical Aid for the Third World sent an Iraqi girl home on April 28, after giving her five operations and weeks of physiotherapy to heal leg wounds caused by a bomb the US dropped on her country in 2003. Then it sent the
Michael Karadjis Thirty years ago, the Vietnamese people carried out a world-historic defeat of US imperialism, under the banner of constructing a new, socially just, society. Yet today, rising capitalism, corruption and a growing rich-poor gap are
Ten people were arrested in a Durban protest calling for formal housing on April 28. Hundreds of protesters from the Cato Crest informal sector had gathered to present President Thabo Mbeki, who was speaking nearby, with a memorandum asking for
David Bacon, Honduras When the Honduran Congress took up ratification of the Central American Free Trade Agreement last year, more than 1000 demonstrators filled the streets of Tegucigalpa, angrily denouncing the proposal. Congress ratified CAFTA

Editorial

Is the Coalition government surreptitiously trying to reimpose the death penalty on Australian citizens? This question has been posed by the conduct of the Australian Federal Police in the case of nine Australians arrested in Bali on April 17 by

Culture

Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of DemocracyBy Lewis H. LaphamThe Penguin Press, 2004178 pages, US$19.95 (hb) REVIEW BY PHIL SHANNON When the US went to war against Iraq, a majority of people in the US opposed the
China Mieville compiled a list of 50 fantasy and science fiction works that socialists should read. A selection is featured below — visit <http://www.fantasticmetropolis.com/i/50socialist/full> for the full list. Mieville points out that