Issue 907

News

The Refugee Action Collective released the statement below on January 24. * * * Frustrations over the immigration department’s reneging on promises of community detention and bridging visas for long term detainees have spilled over to the Pontville detention centre in Tasmania. Around 150, more than half of the Afghan asylum seekers at the detention centre, are now involved in a hunger strike. The asylum seekers have been in detention between 15 and 33 months.
The final day of the Kerry Blockade against coal seam gas exploration activities by Arrow Energy in the Scenic Rim in south east Queensland.
The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) released the statement below on January 16. * * * Refugee activists are concerned about the welfare of two Iranian refugees currently on hunger strike in Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows. The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) is also concerned about the growing number of refugees who remain detained after receiving their refugee status, whilst awaiting security checks from ASIO that take far too long.
Landowners in the Kerry Valley, near Beaudesert in south-east Queensland, have launched a peaceful blockade against Arrow Energy’s attempt to begin exploratory drilling for coal seam gas (CSG) in the Scenic Rim region. The protest was organised by the community group Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic. The blockade follows the success of similar blockades against CSG drilling that took place in the Liverpool Plains and Gloucester last year.
Aboriginal man Terrance Briscoe, 28, died in Alice Springs police custody on January 5. But despite allegations from his family of police brutality, an independent investigation has been ruled out by the Northern Territory’s chief minister Paul Henderson. Aboriginal rights campaigners in Alice Springs said Briscoe was found unconscious in his cell about 2am. He had been “taken in 'protection custody' earlier that night after drinking with friends”.
ANZ Bank, one of Australia’s biggest banks, plans to axe up to 1000 jobs over six months “to protect profit margins from rising costs” and the euro debt crisis, The Australian said on January 13. The Sydney Morning Herald said the Finance Sector Union (FSU) expects up to 700 jobs to be cut in coming weeks. Following job losses in October last year, one ANZ executive told the SMH: “This will be bigger than the job cuts that followed the GFC.
Occupy Sydney held a protest in Pitt St Mall on January 14 to call for the repeal of the US National Defense Authorisation Act. Recently signed into law, the act gives the US government the legal power to detain its citizens indefinitely without trial. The protesters also called for the closure of the US prison in Guantanamo Bay and the release of alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.
The Inland Council for the Environment and The Wilderness Society Newcastle released the statement below on January 13. * * * Environment groups are calling on Premier Barry O’Farrell to take action and stop coal seam gas work in the Pilliga State Forest, as gas giant Santos today released a statement admitting that 10,000 litres of untreated coal seam gas water spilled into the Pilliga Forest in June 2011.
Refugee rights activists representing groups and individuals from Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney, and the Blue Mountains met on December 3 to plan campaign activities for this year. It was the first national gathering of refugee rights campaigners since federal Labor's 2007 election, and fittingly occurred on the same weekend as the ALP's national conference. Labor further entrenched its anti-refugee policies, in particular offshore processing.
About 40 activists, many from conservation group Forest Rescue and anti-whaling campaigners Sea Shepherd, gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Perth on January 9. They were demanding the release of three Australian men detained on a Japanese whaling ship and for an end to the slaughter of whales. The men had been held on board the Shonan Maru II since the early morning of January 8, when they boarded the vessel off Fremantle's coast to protest the presence of a whaling fleet in Australian waters.
After an intense year of political activity in 2011, Socialist Alliance members have been preparing for the organisation’s eighth national conference, which will be held in Sydney over January 20-22.
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Anti-coal seam gas community group Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic released the press release below on January 10. * * * Scenic Rim landowners are claiming victory after a drill rig was withdrawn from the region — they believe operator Arrow Energy was concerned about a possible blockade of its coal seam gas operation in the Kerry Valley. The infrastructure arrived on the site, just south of Beaudesert, three days ago, but was pulled out this morning before drilling could begin.
On December 12, Claire Anterea, a representative from Kiribati, and Good Samaritan sister Geraldine Kearney — members of the Edmund Rice Centre’s Pacific Calling Partnerships delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban — addressed a forum on the outcomes of the talks. Joining them was Edmund Rice Centre director Phil Glendenning. Claire Anterea expressed pride and admiration for her fellow Pacific Island people, who have campaigned hard to push the international community to listen to their needs. Low-lying Pacific Island Countries are the most vulnerable to climate change.
Occupy Sydney released the statement below on January 11. * * * Yesterday at The Downing Centre, Occupy Sydney successfully challenged the definition of the term ‘Camping’ used by NSW Police in their attempts to evict protestors from Martin Place. High profile criminal barrister Peter Lavac argued that the arrest of Lance Priestley was unlawful given the fact that he was not occupying a tent or similar structure when arrested.
Protesters gathered outside the Japanese consulate in Perth on January 9 to demand the Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru #2 release Australian anti-whaling activists Geoffrey Tuxworth, Simon Peterffy and Glen Pendlebury. Video by Zeb Parkes.
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Green Left Weekly's Peter Boyle spoke to Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon outside Lynas Corporation's annual general meeting on November 30 about Lynas's plan to build a rare earths refinery in Malaysia.

Analysis

Internet freedom activist and WikiLeaks collaborator Jacob Applebaum spoke at a forum titled War on the Internet , co-hosted by Electronic Frontiers Australia and the Australian Greens at Trades Hall in Melbourne on January 21.
It wasn't long into 2012 before fresh evidence emerged of a democratic, free West's civilising mission, providing a sterling example to backward barbarians as the march towards global liberation continues apace.
The global economic meltdown is yet to hit Australia hard, but 2011 was still a busy year of struggle in this relatively sheltered, wealthy country. The year began with an Australian citizen on the global centre stage. WikiLeaks cables embarrassed governments worldwide, revealing war crimes and treachery, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested without charge. He was detained for all of last year. His supporters fear he will be extradited to the US, where conservatives have openly called for his assassination.
Veteran queer rights activist Steve Warren gave the speech below at the “1Love: equality, marriage, freedom” conference in Sydney on December 4. * * * I am speaking from the perspective of the 1970’s, which influenced our views. 78ers fought for equality for all in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex (GLBTQI) community, and we supported our Indigenous, multicultural, disabled and heterosexual friends who stood beside us in our struggles in unity as one voice for equality. Equality was foremost in our minds.
Few Australian political protests can claim to have made an impact as great or as lasting as the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra. First set up on the lawns of Old Parliament House in January 1972, the embassy has been a focal point for the struggle for Aboriginal rights. Four Aboriginal men, Michael Anderson, Billie Craigie, Tony Koorie and Bertie Williams, launched the embassy in response to then-prime minister Billy McMahon’s refusal to grant Aboriginal land rights. Instead, McMahon had offered to lease stolen land back to Aboriginal people.
Rohingya refugee Harun had been in Australian detention for more than two years when he was told by letter that he would never be a free man in Australia. Despite being a recognised refugee under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Australian immigration system, Australia’s secret security organisation had decided he was a “threat” and should not be given a protection visa.
A Perth educator, author and long-time activist, Mary (Mairi) McKenzie, died on New Year's Eve at the age of 94. Mary discovered early what life was like in a society with little welfare and few rights for workers and the unemployed. At the age of 10, she lost her mother to tuberculosis, making her effectively the mother figure for her seven younger siblings. At the age of 13 she left school to undertake their full-time care.
Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke to Melanie Sluyter, an environmental activist from the United States who took part in Occupy Wall Street and is visiting Melbourne. * * * How did you get involved in the Occupy movement?
This is a story of broken promises from the Australian and Tasmanian governments, private companies profiting from the destruction of the environment with taxpayer-funded subsidies, threatened species under threat despite being “wholly protected,” one woman sitting in a tree to stand up for the forests and a local and international community who are standing behind her in the fight to save an irreplaceable ecosystem. Almost two years ago the forest round table talks began, bringing together groups that were once seen as opponents in the long running battle over the forests in Tasmania.

World

United States: Panetta admits Iran not developing nukes “U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta let slip on Sunday the big open secret that Washington war hawks don’t want widely known: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons,” RawStory.com reported on January 9. The article said: “Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Panetta admitted that despite all the rhetoric, Iran is not pursuing the ability to split atoms with weapons, saying it is instead pursuing 'a nuclear capability.'
If Bradley Manning had committed war crimes rather than exposing them, he wouldn't be in so much trouble. He might even be hailed as an American hero. Instead, he's held at a military prison in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, facing more than 20 charges, including "aiding the enemy". Manning is the private who allegedly leaked sheaves of classified material to WikiLeaks while working as an army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
It took about 20 minutes after the last official US combat troops crossed the border from Iraq into Kuwait for the Potemkin village of “Iraqi stability and democracy”, carefully built by the occupation, to fall apart. The regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki brought a terrorism indictment against the vice-president, Tariq al-Hashimi, who promptly headed north to autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, where the central government’s hand doesn’t reach. Purges of university professors and arrests of political figures not favoured by the Maliki regime have begun.
In July last year, millions of Red Shirts — a mass movement of the poor — turned out to vote for the Pheu Thai party (PT), headed by Yingluck Shinawatra. The party won a landslide majority despite attempts by the military, media and elites to block the party's victory. The election result was a slap in the face for the military and the “party of the military” (the misnamed Democrat Party — DP).
A union representing 20,000 oil and gas workers in Nigeria announced on January 12 that it would shut down all production from January 15 unless the government restored a petrol subsidy it scrapped on January 1. The Pengassan union said if the government refused, it would be “forced to go ahead and apply the bitter option of ordering the systematic shutting down of oil and gas production”. Pengassan president Babatunde Ogun had told members to “be on red alert in preparation for total production shutdown”.
A year ago, uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt began the wave of popular mobilisations across the Arab world that has become known in the West as the “Arab Spring”. A desperate individual protest in a provincial Tunisian town ― the self-immolation of fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi to protest police harassment and lack of economic opportunity ― triggered a region-wide revolt against economic and political injustice.
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) ,was acquitted on January 9 by the country’s High Court of the second round of politically motivated “sodomy” charges. He was jailed for six years under the former Barisan Nasional (BN) government of Mohamed Mahathir on similar charges. Police dispersed jubilant opposition supporters outside the court using the excuse that three small bombs had exploded nearby.
The following statement was issued by the family of Mere Samisoni, arrested by the Fijian military regime, and later released on bail on January 3. For more information, please contact pacifikanews@gmail.com . * * * The family of award-winning Fijian businesswoman and former MP Dr Mere Samisoni has been warned by her lawyers she might be charged with conspiracy by the country’s military rulers when the courts reopen on Tuesday.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned the United States’ decision to expel the Venezuelan consul general in Miami as “arbitrary and unjustified” on January 9. Chavez derided the move as “another demonstration of the arrogance of ridiculous imperialism”. Venezuelan diplomat Livia Acosta Noguera had reportedly been working in the US since March when she was ordered to leave on January 8 amid claims that she had discussed the possibility of orchestrating cyber attacks against the US government whilst serving as vice-secretary at the Venezuelan embassy in Mexico.
The global political crisis ― a natural outcome of the continuing economic crisis ― finally made it to Russia last month before getting derailed by the country's traditional hibernation in early January. Nothing much happens in Russia between December 31 and January 13 ― and particularly not a revolution. While the organisers of the protest demonstrations headed for swanky resorts in Mexico and other sunny spots, their grassroot supporters were stuck in cold, dreary Russia. They retired to their cramped apartments to drink vodka and discuss the country's uncertain fate.
Almost a year after the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) landslide victory we have a date ― Autumn 2014 ― for the most important referendum in Scottish history. Scotland will vote on whether it stays in a union [the “United Kingdom”] dominated by the right wing ― a state that invaded Iraq, imposed nuclear weapons on the Clyde and destroyed Scotland’s industrial base ― or become an independent nation. As such, it would have the power to fundamentally change Scotland for the better and reflect the left of centre political terrain instead of being dominated by the Tory home counties.
On January 5, another Tunisian set his body on fire. This happened in Gafsa and the date corresponds to the beginning of the social movement in the mining basin in 2008. The self-immolation coincided with the visit of three ministers, who visited the city in the hope of negotiating with people staging a sit-in for their social rights. Clashes started between the inhabitants and security forces.
One of the most chilling scenes in the recent SBS mini-series The Promise depicts the plight of some Palestinian schoolgirls in Hebron. Leaving school in the afternoon, the girls are subjected to abuse and intimidation by settler youths as they walk home. At one point, a settler boy, face contorted with hatred, viciously hurls stones at the group, injuring one. Meanwhile, as the girls crouch in terror, blase Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers look on, doing nothing to stop the violence until challenged by a young foreign tourist.
On 22 May 2007, the British Guardian's front page announced: Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq. The writer, Simon Tisdall, claimed that Iran had secret plans to defeat United States' troops in Iraq, which included "forging ties with al-Qaeda elements". The coming "showdown" was an Iranian plot to influence a vote in the US Congress.

Culture

See also: RIP Ollie MC CALL OUT TO THE NATION Ollie MC Out in the desert Deserted people eyes diverted Look away from a world gone a bad way The dreaming tells of a different fate Than being surrounded by hate White collar white man white lease papers and a white police van Blind to contrition Third world hidden politicians With racist ambitions From basic cards to prohibition Stop the intervention Rich from the land that they promised to protect People got good reason to suspect
Occupy this Invasion Wed Feb 1, 6pm Little Fish Gallery 22 Enmore Rd, Newtown Submission dates: Thurs Jan 27- Sun Jan 31 Mediums: Any  Email: littlefishgallerycrew@gmail.com Ph: 0449 288 904 Little Fish Gallery is proud to present its latest group show inspired by the global Occupy movement and which marks Invasion Day on January 26. This exhibition transcends political “isms“ and welcomes people with an array of different views to participate in creative dialogue whilst building community through the processes of art.
The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights By Robin Blackburn Verso, 2011 502 pp Robin Blackburn has written another masterful book on the history of the slave order in the Americas and the emancipation struggle that ultimately vanquished it. The American Crucible is described by the author as, “an overview of the entire rise and fall of the slave regimes of the Americas from the early sixteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century”.
Ollie MC was an activist and hip hop artist, whose wheelchair was seen from the stage, to the streets, rallies and the coffee shop. Determined and unforgettable, he bore witness to the struggle for truth and justice. See also: Call Out To The Nation -- Ollie MC When you met Ollie, he made an impression. His talent with beats, rhymes and fighting and soulful lyrics stayed with you. His energy, cheekiness and ridicule of the corrupt, stayed with you.
The Iron Lady Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, written by Abi Morgan, starring Meryl Streep In cinemas now Film can be a powerful ideological tool. Truth can be manipulated, tyrannies expunged and sympathy conjured for the devil. The Iron Lady, depicting the life and times of former British Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is just such a film.

Editorial

If you are an activist peacefully campaigning for a clean energy future, the federal Labor government believes you are a legitimate target for secret surveillance. Fairfax News’ Phillip Dorling reported on January 7 that resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson had asked for federal police help to spy on anti-coal campaigners. Even worse, documents released to Fairfax after a Freedom of Information request showed Ferguson acted after urging from coal industry lobbyists.

Fighting Fund

Happy New Year and thank you to all our supporters. You helped us raise $203,200 for our 2011 Fighting Fund. This is a great effort, even though we made only 81% of our target of $250,000. The big upsurge in political activity — spurred on by the “Arab Spring” revolts and the Occupy and Indignado movements — probably meant that less activist time was available for fundraising. But it also made the Green Left project even more significant.