Issue 753

Australia

On May 23-25, 160 Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists gathered in Sydney for the Unite and Fight conference, organised by the Sydney Aboriginal Rights Coalition. The conference was intended to update people on the impacts of the ongoing Northern Territory intervention and plan the campaign against it. A key priority coming out of the conference was to build large community rallies around the country on June 21, the anniversary of the announcement of the NT intervention.

Natasha Moore
and Wayne Collard, two Nyoongar members of the West Australian Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC-WA), attended the conference and caught up with Green Left Weekly’s Annolies Truman, also an ARC-WA member, on their return to Perth.

Around 300 Melbourne Sudanese community members and supporters took to the streets on May 27 to protest the indiscriminate killings taking place in the disputed oil-rich Abyei territory of Sudan.

“The Venezuelan revolution is slowly going forward, despite problems. President Hugo Chavez hasn’t stopped for a minute in pushing the process ahead, in the face of serious challenges”, Coral Wynter, co-leader of the Australian May Day 2008 solidarity brigade to Venezuela, told a meeting of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network on May 26.

After a vibrant protest on May 26, the Gold Coast Bulletin and Channel Nine news reported that “people power” had won out over a new council policy that banned protests in almost all public parks in the Gold Coast.

Local residents, environmentalists and public transport supporters gathered at Debney Park on May 25 to voice their opposition to a proposed tolled east-west road tunnel and a large housing tower development in the local area.

A climate emergency rally to be held in Melbourne on July 5 has been endorsed by more than 30 groups and more have indicated they will support it.

As Victoria’s parliamentary debate on abortion decriminalisation nears, pro-choice activists are stepping up their clinic defence against anti-abortion zealots. On the fourth Saturday of every month, pro-choice activists stand outside Melbourne’s Fertility Control Clinic to keep anti-abortionists on the other side of the street.

On May 23, Hafizur Rahman, who has lived in Australia for 12 years and was working as a printer in Sydney, was told by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship that he must leave the country by June 6.

Your Water Your Say (YWYS), the group campaigning against Victoria’s proposed Wonthaggi desalination plant, is facing bankruptcy due to the state and federal governments’ decision to pursue costs against the group after it lost a preliminary court case over the project.

GEELONG — On May 30, 150 workers attended the launch of the campaign against the Australian Building and Construction Commission and laws targeting building workers. The ABCC was set up under the Howard government and has been retained by Labor PM

Qantas engineers stopped work for four hours at Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney airports over May 29-30. The workers are campaigning for a 5% wage increase.

Northern Territory teachers carried out rolling stoppages on May 26-28 as part of their campaign for a new enterprise agreement with the NT government. Teachers also held an after-work rally in Darwin’s city centre on May 29.

Tasmanian Labor Premier Paul Lennon resigned suddenly on May 26, after an opinion poll revealed his popularity had dived to just 17%, and 39% of voters would have preferred Liberal leader Will Hodgman as premier.

World

Following the December 2 constitutional reform referendum defeat — the first for the forces of the Bolivarian revolution since the election of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 1998 — and facing popular discontent at the problems holding back the advance of the process of change, the pro-revolution forces face a big challenge in securing an overwhelming victory in the November regional elections in order not to lose ground to the US-backed opposition.

Below is an abridged May 26 statement by the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF).

Bolivia may have its first-ever indigenous president, but racism is alive and well in this country, as demonstrated by the public humiliation of a group of around 50 indigenous mayors, town councillors and community leaders in the south-central city of Sucre.

Pedro Antonio Marin, better know as Manuel Marulanda and “Tiro Fijo” (Sure Shot), was the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP).

From the Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network, http://iwsn.org.

South Africa, up until the recent outbreak of xenophobic violence, was one of the rare, relatively stable African countries where refugees like myself could expect their basic rights to be protected.

After a year of stellar successes, almost 600 delegates from Germany’s new left-wing party, Die Linke, came together for the party’s first ever congress, held in the east German city of Cottbus on May 25 and 26.

On May 28, Nepal entered a new era when the constituent assembly — in its first meeting since the April 10 elections — overwhelming voted to abolish the 240-year-old monarchy and declare Nepal a democratic republic.

The world’s biggest carbon offset market, the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism (CDM), is run by the United Nations, administered by the World Bank and is intended to reduce emissions by rewarding developing countries that invest in clean technologies.

The New Labour government headed by PM Gordon Brown sank deeper into crisis after it lost the Crewe and Nantwich by-election — occasioned by the death of the sitting MP Gwyneth Dunwoody — to the Conservatives on May 22.

Twenty-six years ago, Pol Brennan was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner in the infamous H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison, watching his friends die on hunger strike. Today, he is in solitary confinement in a Texas immigration holding centre.

The anti-war movement must step up its campaign for the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan.

Breaking the Silence is an organisation of veteran Israeli soldiers that collects testimonies from soldiers who have served in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the start of the Second Intifada in September 2000. A number of these testimonies are posted on its website, http://breakingthesilence.org.il.

It is an almost unquestioned orthodoxy that the only way there could be a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is through the creation of two separate states.

Analysis

Joseph Bryan, Kevin Rudd’s, politicians, tax cuts, Stolen Generation, Northern Territory, 2020 Summit

Organised racism scored a win on May 27, when Camden Council voted unanimously to reject a proposal to build the 1200 student Al Amanah Islamic College in the south-western Sydney suburb.

NSW teachers are not only against the Labor government’s staffing changes in public schools: they oppose the Department of Education’s (DET) move to strip union representatives from selection panels determining teacher transfers.

Melbourne is drowning in cars and choking on petrol fumes. At the same time, the privatised public transport system is in serious crisis.

“Beautiful”, “haunting”, “dark”, “evocative” or “revolting”, “indecent”, “exploitative” and “pornographic”? The May 22 seizure of 20 photographs by Australian artist Bill Henson from Sydney’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, and the subsequent NSW police investigation, have provoked an extreme response.

Petrol prices have sky-rocketed in the last six months. The cost per litre now pushes $1.60, with predictions in some quarters of a $2 per litre price by the end of the year.

When one sees a modern city from the air, especially at night, it is a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. The immensity of the project is a testimony to the power and creativity of human beings. However, on the ground and actually living and working in this wonder, things are quite different: the social and ecological problems crowd in and fill your view. The truth is that our cities have always been dominated by the rich and powerful, and built and operated to serve their needs rather than those of the mass of working people who live and toil in them.

The federal government’s intervention into remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory has largely failed to produce significant improvements in health or housing, an NT health department employee told Green Left Weekly on May 29.

Letters

Afghanistan

Tony Iltis (GLW #752)makes much of the West's fumbling and imperialistic attitude towards Afghanistan in modern history. What he neglects to mention is that polling of Afghans has, consistently since the invasion, conclusively shown

General

“They must think we are all idiots”, said an exasperated Friend of Green Left last week in response to the parliamentary debate about rising petrol prices.

Resistance!

“Enough of these fools who shut factories and shut schools!” was a chant of thousands of student protesters as they marched on May 18 against the neoliberal education reforms in France. The conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s restructure of the education system will mean 11,200 teachers will lose their jobs as well as the cutting of “optional” subjects, such as foreign languages and art.

Culture

The Empire’s New Clothes

CD performed by Phil Monsour

13 tracks, $26

CD available from http://www.philmonsour.com

On April 28, an Australian soldier died in Afghanistan — the fifth since the US-led invasion in October 2001. He was part of an international invasion force to impose a colonial occupation on the Afghan people.

Sounds like change

3CR radiothon

June 2-13

UFOs, Lies and the Cold War — Argues that from 1947 into the 1960s, US intelligence was able to use UFO paranoia strategically to cover up secret weapons testing. SBS, Friday, June 6, 2.30pm.

Embassy Days — Follows the evolution of the

Sense of a City

Regard Gallery, 372 Wilson Street, Darlington

June 13-29, 11am-5pm daily

Opening June 12, 6pm

@intro =I wouldn’t want to elevate anybody to inappropriately high heights, but for me, Utah Phillips was a legend.