Issue 900

News

Occupy Melbourne and Occupy Sydney have regrouped since the brutal police attack on the two camps in the Melbourne and Sydney CBDs on October 21 and 23. In both cities, the movement is refusing to be intimidated -- and plans are underway for big rallies and attempts to re-occupy public space. Occupy Melbourne has organised a rally for Saturday, October 29, 12pm at the State Library. The rally will march to the Treasury Gardens, with the goal of setting up a new occupation there.
Occupy Melbourne released the statement below on October 27. * * * Occupy Melbourne’s 8th general assembly passed a proposal, put forward by the Indigenous Working Group, to support the creation of a treaty between the First Nations of Australia and the Australian Commonwealth Government. The call for recognition of Aboriginal Sovereignty gained public prominence in Australia with the establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972.
Socialist Party Yarra City councillors Anthony Main and Stephen Jolly released released this letter below to Occupy Melbourne on October 27. * * * Dear Occupy Melbourne comrades, Thank you for your letter to Councillors requesting support from the Yarra City Council. On behalf of the two Socialist Party Councillors at Yarra we would like to offer the following brief reply.
Seamus Doherty is a long time human rights activist, particularly with the Western Australia Deaths in Custody Watch Committee. The WA Liberal government has put him on the CHOGM excluded people's list. Doherty has never being charged with anything before and needs a walking stick to get around. But the CHOGM police task force has deemed him a threat. Doherty is also a member of the CHOGM Action Network, which has planned a peaceful people's march on the CHOGM summit on October 28 to call for "justice and climate action, not racism and war".
Friends of the Earth released the statement below on October 25. * * * Today’s announcement that coalmining will be allowed to continue at Anglesea is possibly the worst in a long list of bad environmental decisions since the Baillieu government was elected, according to Friends of the Earth. The government says that the supporting legislation, introduced to parliament today, will “modernise” its agreement with the Anglesea coalmine and power station and support regional jobs.
9.30pm: The general assembly passed several other proposals (which happened after GLW's laptop had a temporary power emergency). These included: a decision to lodge a schedule one with the police outlinining a march route from Town Hall, to Wynyard Park, to Martin Place, and back to Town Hall. The assembly also agreed on the statement read out earlier that night. Now occupations in Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide have a common statement, which will be printed by Fairfax by Friday (so we were told).
The Refugee Action Collective Sydney released the statement below on October 26. * * * A Tamil refugee in the Villawood detention centre has committed suicide in the early hours of Wednesday, October 26. ”Shooty”, as he was known to his friends, was taken to hospital after taking poison but died shortly afterwards. See also: Darwin detention centre ‘a humanitarian disaster’, says refugee group
The Occupy Auckland general assembly released this “Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Australia” on October 24. * * * From the General Assembly of Occupy Auckland, New Zealand In session, the 24th day of October, 2011 Madam Prime Minister, Respectfully, we the assembled citizens, residents and supporters of the Auckland Occupation wish to convey to you our deepest disappointment in the recent repression by Australian police of the peaceful demonstrators in Melbourne’s City Square and Sydney's Martin Place.
Communications Workers Union secretary Len Cooper released this statement on October 25. * * * Melbourne Lord Mayor Doyle has been responsible for one of the most disgraceful episodes in this city's history. The Occupy Melbourne protesters were holding a peaceful, disciplined, well organised protest, largely confined to the city square, thus preventing inconvenience to most others.
The Darwin Asylum Seekers Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released the statement below on October 25. * * * A Burmese refugee has resumed his protest on the roof of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC). The man, who has been in detention just under 2 years, began his protest on Sunday night and was up there for several hours before receiving an electric shock from the fence surrounding the Centre and coming down off the roof.
The Lock the Gate Alliance released the statement below on October 19. * * * The Lock The Gate Alliance claims that the Murray Darling Basin will be another casualty as Precautionary Principle is thrown to the wind in the resources boom. Lock the Gate President, Drew Hutton says pressure from States addicted to mining royalties is most likely to be behind the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) plan to allow massive increases in groundwater use in the forth-coming Murray Darling Basin Plan.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released the statement below on October 25. * * * The Refugee Action Coalition is calling a protest outside the Sydney offices of the Immigration Department, 26 Lee Street, 12.30pm, Wednesday 26 October. Speakers at the protest will include Dr Michael Dudley, chair of Suicide Prevention Australia. See also: Darwin detention centre ‘a humanitarian disaster’, says refugee group
Between 80 and 100 people gathered for an open-air Occupy Perth general assembly in Perth on October 22. It began at 11am and finished around 5pm. The main purpose of the assembly was to make plans for establishing a Perth occupation at the end of the Chogm Protest (taking next Friday, October 28) that would last at least throughout the CHOGM summit. There was quite a constructive discussion and a lot of enthusiasm to begin an occupation next weekend. Eleven working groups were established.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released the statement below on October 23. * * * A Burmese refugee in detention two weeks short of two years began a roof top protest at the Darwin detention centre Sunday night, 23 October.
The Darwin Asylum Seekers Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released the statement below on October 23. * * * The Darwin Asylum Seekers Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) today called on the federal government to learn from the humanitarian disaster that is the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC) and abandon its plans to open a new 1500 bed detention centre at Wickham Point, 35 kilometres south-east of Darwin.
Occupy Melbourne released the statement below on October 24. * * * Occupy Melbourne will today write to the Victorian Ombudsman calling for an investigation into at least 43 documented instances of police violence against peaceful demonstrators, including children, during the morning raid of October 21. Occupy Melbourne have welcomed Robert Doyle’s concern for public safety and have again called on the Lord Mayor to support a full inquiry into the events of Friday 21 October where riot police were deployed against peaceful demonstrators.
Occupations in Sydney and Melbourne have been violently broken up by police in the past few days, but the Occupy Brisbane camp at Post Office Square is going well so far. At this stage, there is no sign of police or Brisbane City Council harassment. A general assembly of the camp was held at noon on October 23. About 100 people attended. See also: Occupy Perth general assembly prepares for action
Same-sex marriage, the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and serious issues affecting the aged care sector were among agenda items discussed at the Australian Nursing Federation’s (ANF) Biennial National Conference 2011. The conference met over October 20-21 in Canberra. The ANF is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing (AINs). Its membership stands at 214,000 and it is one of Australia’s fastest-growing unions.
Green Left Weekly’s Sue Bolton has been part of the Occupy Melbourne protest since it began on October 15. Below she recounts the past week of the occupation in Melbourne’s City Square, which was broken up by a fierce police assault on October 21. * * * Day 5: Still going strong We are still going strong with about 45 to 50 tents in City Square. I estimate there are about 100 people camping each night with many others staying until late in the night.
Occupy Melbourne released the statement below on October 21 following a brutal police attack on protesters earlier that day. * * * Occupy Melbourne have called for a full inquiry into unlawful police behaviour amid scenes of police violence on the streets of Melbourne today. The call comes after riot police disrupted a peaceful demonstration in Melbourne’s CBD.
Inspired by Occupy Wall Street and the global revolt against corporate greed, a diverse range of new and experienced people have gathered at several public assemblies, each of more than 40 people, to discuss building the movement in Adelaide. Following an October 15 action where 200 people gathered in Victoria Square, the collective has held a major working bee to make banners, signs, placards to help build awareness of Occupy Adelaide.
Occupy Sydney read out the statement below at an October 22 rally held at the occupy site in Sydney’s Martin Place. The statement was adopted unanimously by about 1000 rally attendees. Live blog: Occupy Melbourne, Sydney rallies * * * We are the workers. We are the indebted. We are the immigrants and the indigenous. We are the homeless. We are the students. We are the unemployed. We are the underrepresented people of the world. We are the 99%. We are Occupy Sydney.
Federal Greens MP for Melbourne has come out against the October 20 decision to send riot police to evict peaceful protesters from the occupy Melbourne site in City Square. In a statement Bandt said: ““Ted Baillieu and Robert Doyle have made a huge blunder by sending in the police, turning a week-long non-violent protest into a site of confrontation. See also:
The Queensland government lifted a ban on fishing in and around Gladstone Harbour on October 6, but controversy over diseased fish goes on. Writing in the October 19 Courier Mail, environment reporter Bryan Williams said: “The mystery of the Gladstone fish disease outbreak continues, with scientists focusing on a parasitic flatworm and about 300 tonnes of Barramundi that spilled into the Boyne River last summer from Awoonga Dam.
Australian Taxation Office management has announced it will put a revised draft enterprise agreement up for a staff vote between November 9 and 15. The new version is little different from management’s original proposal, which was rejected by staff by a margin of 59% to 41% in June. The total pay rise being offered is still 9% over three years, which is less than the expected rate of inflation.
Stop CSG Illawarra released the statement below on October 16. * * * More than 3000 people walked across the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge today in opposition to coal seam gas (CSG) mining. Simultaneously, abseilers lowered a banner from the escarpment that said: "This community has spoken. Stop CSG". Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, and councillors George Takacs, Lee Colacino, Bede Crasnich, Vicki Curran, Jill Merrin and Greg Petty attended the walk.
Organisers were stoked with an exceptional turnout for an anti-coal seam gas (CSG) rally that took place in Townsville on October 16 as part of the coordinated national day of action. More than 150 protesters marched from Victoria Bridge through town chanting slogans such as “Frack is whack” and “Lock the gate, before it’s too late”. The rally proceeded to Anzac Park where various speakers addressed the crowd. Gail Hamilton from the North Queensland Conservation Council said: “The people in Townsville are standing up and saying we don’t want CSG… It is not a safe energy option.”
About 200 people attended a rally and march in Brisbane Square on October 15 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the refugee boat SIEV-X, with the loss of 353 lives — 146 of whom where children. The then-Howard government and Australian navy knew of this disaster but allowed these asylum seekers, fleeing war and persecution, to die. Speakers at the rally included former Democrats Senator and now Greens member Andrew Bartlett, an Iraqi refugee now settled in this country, and human rights lawyer Julian Burnside.
More than 600 people rallied and marched in Brisbane’s CBD on October 16, as part of a national day of action to “Defend our water from coal and coal seam gas”. The rally in Queens Park was sponsored by the Lock and Gate Alliance and Defend Our Water Queensland. Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Drew Hutton told the rally: “We live in the driest country on earth. To allow the mining industry to pollute our water and destroy our best farming land is a disgrace. “Why is the Labor government allowing the mining companies to ruin our state? And the Liberal-National Party are no better.”
The occupation of Sydney’s Martin Place continued into its fourth day with a kitchen, information desk, media centre and people’s library set-up, as protesters come and go from the now comfortably established rally site.
Ongoing occupations of public spaces were continuing on October 17 in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in opposition to corporate domination and exploitation. The actions began on October 15 as part of the "United for Global Change" actions that took place in more than 1500 cities and towns around the world.

Analysis

Newly-elected Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery gave this speech at a October 16 rally against coal seam gas, organised by Stop CSG Illawarra. More than 3000 people attended the rally.
The barriers to renewable energy are many. It’s not just a matter of the draconian new Victorian laws against wind farms — the legacy of government support for fossil fuels also hangs heavily over the renewables sector.
The Socialist Alliance released this statement on the morning of October 23. * * * Socialist Alliance condemns violent police attacks on Melbourne and Sydney occupations Socialist Alliance condemns the violent police dispersal of peaceful protesters at Occupy Melbourne (October 21) and Occupy Sydney (dawn, October 23) and pledges its full support for the re-establishment of these occupations against the tyranny of the world's richest 1%.
As the federal Labor government was forced to drop its maligned “Malaysia solution” and process all refugees arriving by boat in Australia, there was the hint that its inhumane detention of thousands of refugees would also be questioned. Immigration minister Chris Bowen said on October 13 that the immigration department may — after health, identity and security checks — give some refugees bridging visas allowing them to live in the community while their claims are assessed. See also:
Several prominent Australian human rights advocates have called for protests when Sri Lanka’s “war criminal” president, Mahinda Rajapaksa comes to Perth in late October to attend the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Socialist Alliance national convenor Peter Boyle gave the speech below at the recent Climate Change Social Change activist conference, held in Melbourne over September 30 to October 3. * * * The idea of this session follows on from something Ian Angus mentioned this morning, where he said there are two things we should be going for in building a revolutionary ecosocialist movement — a movement to transform this society in a fundamental way.
Australia’s south-west is the only part of the country internationally recognised as a biodiversity hotspot. It is also a major agricultural area. The south-west town Margaret River is one of the country’s primary wine producing regions and a major tourist destination.
Stop CSG Illawarra’s Jess Moore gave the speech below at the 3000-strong rally against coal seam gas mining that took place in Clifton, north of Wollongong, on October 16. * * * Like so many people who live in the north Illawarra, there is a creek that flows through my backyard. Most of those creeks come from aquifers: the Hawkesbury Sandstone Aquifer System that the coal seam gas companies want to drill through to get the gas. This campaign is about our future and our right to protect this area — to protect our drinking water, our food and our future.
US actor Danny Glover gave the speech below to protesters at the Occupy Oakland protest on October 15. * * * [Actor and civil rights activist] Ozzie Davis used to say when asked why he was where he was at that moment in time, he said he was there because it is the right moment to be there and the right time to be there. We’re here because it is the right time to be here. We’re tired and sick, and tired of being sick and tired. That’s why we’re here.
This is the 900th issue of Green Left Weekly. We are very confident that we will get to the 1000th issue and beyond. We know we can continue to be the most-read environmental and left campaigning newspaper and website in Australia. The fact that we reach this milestone amid a still-growing global movement of occupations against the tyranny of the world’s richest 1% goes some way to explaining our confidence.
Former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr says he is excited by the Occupy Wall Street protests against US corporations, which deserve “a roughing up … after the abuses that blighted the lives of ordinary families”. Yet he has decided the protest movement has no future.
More corporate managers are psychopaths than the general population, a detailed research project has discovered. The University of British Columbia study “Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk”, published in Behavioural Sciences and the Law, March/April 2010, looked at professionals who had been spotted as potential management material, the people thought to have the skills that could get them to senior positions.
The huge number of transnational capitalist firms straddling the planet are effectively controlled by a very small group of centrally important players, says a ground-breaking survey conducted by Swiss researchers. Deploying statistical methods normally used in physics, Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder and Stefano Battiston of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, data-mined information held by business intelligence firm Bureau van Dijk. The data, which included company ownership structures, allowed a new insight into the relationships between 43,060 corporations.

World

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman speaks to a participant in Occupy Oakland as it comes under attack from police. Video from Democracy Now
This solidarity statement from supporters of the Occupy movement Cairo, Egypt, was released on October 24. * * * To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.
This is a full video coverage of Noam Chomsky's address to Occupy Boston protesters on Oct 22, 2011 by a NewsParticipaton.com citizen reporter.
On October 15, about 4000-5000 of protesters in London descended on London's financial sector as part of the “United for Global Change” actions that took place in more than 1000 cities and towns worldwide. Occupy London Stock Exchange is occupying an area in front of St Paul's Cathedral and holding people's assemblies to discuss the goals, demands and direction of the movement.
The overwhelming success of the October 15 “United for Global Change” demonstrations (which took place in more than 1000 cities and towns in about 90 countries) is having powerful positive feedback on the indignados (15-M) movement in Spain.
Greek trade unions warned on October 21 of further strikes in the next week after parliament approved new harsh cutbacks amid mass protests that left one man dead and about 200 injured. Civil servants' union Adedy secretary-general Ilias Iliopoulos said the new law "will not be implemented" and accused the government of ignoring popular dissent. Greece's main private-sector union, GSEE, was also planning new strikes. GSEE board member Stathis Anestis said: "We plan long-running opposition to ensure that the crippling cutbacks imposed by our loan shark predators are not enforced."
United States President Barack Obama announced on October 14 that he was sending US special forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US combat troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. They will only "engage" for "self-defence", says Obama, satirically. With Libya secured, a US invasion of the African continent is under way. Obama's decision is described in the press as "highly unusual" and "surprising", even "weird". It is none of these things. It is the logic of US foreign policy since 1945.
The latest wave of the bloodshed that has taken place in Yemen since September 18 shows the country’s hated President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has no intention of leaving power peacefully. At least 35 people were killed and many more were wounded in government attempts to crack down on protesters between October 15 and 18, The Guardian said on October 18. Government forces also battled tribal fighters and defected soldiers loyal to anti-Saleh political forces.
Indonesian army forces brutally attacked the Papuan national conference in Abepura on October 19. The conference was attended by up to 20,000 people discussing West Papua's struggle for independence from Indonesia. WestPapuaMedia.info said on October 21 that local sources confirmed six people were killed. New Matilda.com reported on October 20 an account from a priest who saw a truck full of arrested people who were “covered with blood” and had been “beaten and shot”.
After being delayed by three months, the official campaign for Tunisia's constituent assembly began on October 1, paving the way for the October 23 elections. More than 80 different parties, many formed or legalised since the overthrow of dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, and about 1500 different lists vyed for a place in the 218-member assembly.
A confusing feeling passed through me after hearing about the exchange of 1027 Palestinian detainees for the only Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by the Palestinian resistance fighters. I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad. Gazing at the faces of the prisoners’ families in the solidarity tent in Gaza City on October 18, I see a look that I have never seen before: eyes glittering with hope. Thinking about those women whose relatives are most likely to be released and seeing their big smiles makes me happy.
The sense of joy was palpable in the streets of Gaza on October 18 as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners jailed by Israel returned home. It was a remarkable day in the life of the territory’s 1.6 million Palestinians. During the past five years Israel has levied a heavy price on Gaza's civilian population for the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Palestinian resistance fighters. It has been extracted with Israel’s warplanes, tanks, bulldozers and relentless siege.
An estimated 2.4 million Kenyans are facing food insecurity this year. One cause is poor rains, which have affected all of north-east Africa and are probably at least partially the result of climate change. Another is the rising cost of imported food. Rising food costs are also partly caused by climate change, but also by speculation. For the finance industry, food is just another commodity to be bought, sold or hoarded to generate the most profits.
October 15 was the first time since February 2003, with the huge demonstrations in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, that a call for an international action on a specific date has met with such a response. See also: Brutal police attack on Occupy Oakland All Green Left's extensive Occupy coverage
On October 16, Kenyan forces entered southern Somalia. The invasion is aimed against the Islamist militia al Shabaab. It is in response to a recent rise in cross-border kidnappings of Westerners, with four abducted in the past month. Kenya is not the only regional country with soldiers in Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991. An African Union force of 9000 Ugandan and Burundian troops has been in the country since January 2009, when it replaced an Ethiopian force. AU troops have launched their own offensive against al Shabaab.
Left-wing political parties, trade unions, social activists and student groups at a press conference in the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) office invited people to join them in an Occupy Lahore anti-capitalist camp at Nasir Bagh in the city centre. The camp will continue for at least two days. A program for the camp will be announced soon. The camp is being set up in solidarity with the worldwide Occupy movement and the growing unrest among peoples caused by the global economic recession.
In the aftermath of Ollanta Humala’s June 5 victory in the Peruvian presidential election, the “investment community” and the international business press reacted with the hysteria of thieves who think they have heard a distant siren approaching. Their first impulse was to cut and run. Peruvian stocks plunged amid fears that this “radical leftist” would put an end to the “good times”, levelling higher taxes on mining profits and perhaps nationalising key export industries.
John Bellamy Foster is renowned Marxist economist and ecologist, and an editor of Monthly Review. He was a featured guest speaker at the World at a Crossroads: Climate Change-Social Change conference, which Green Left Weekly co-organised in Melbourne over September 30-October 3.

Culture

Electronic Intifada (EI) brought together three stories in early October that paint a vivid picture of the need for a cultural boycott of Israel. This certainly is no surprise, given that EI is without a doubt the best source out there on the Palestinian struggle. Still, it seems worth connecting the dots. First is United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's threat to withhold aid from global aid programs crucial to Palestine's infrastructure and culture.
Sideshow: Dumbing Down Democracy By Lindsay Tanner Scribe, 2011 232 pages, $32.95 (pb) Lindsay Tanner, the former finance minister in the federal Labor government, laments in his book, Sideshow, the rotting core of democracy in Australia that plumbed its most dismal depths in the lacklustre, “non-of-the-above” elections of 2010. The commercial media, he says, have been responsible for dumbing down the quality of political debate and sapping the level of popular political engagement. There is much in Tanner’s critique that is accurate.
Jewish Identity & Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel By David Landy Zed Books, 2011, 272 pp., $49.95 Just over a year ago, I attended the launch of the radically Zionist “Friends of Israel” (supporters of the state of Israel as an exclusively “Jewish” state) at the charismatic Christian Victory Life church in Perth. I did so openly as a member of Friends of Palestine. I sat with my Palestinian scarf draped around my Jewish neck and listened nervously to more than two hours of speeches.