Issue 911


Nyoongar activists and their supporters refused to leave Perth’s Heirisson Island on February 19 when a squad of armed police arrived to evict them. The police forced the protesters to remove cars and tents from the island but the embassy remains. The Tent Embassy was established on February 12 in response to the state government proposal to extinguish Nyoongar native title.
On February 14, hundreds of Aboriginal people, many young ones, and non-Aboriginal people gathered at the fence where 17-year-old TJ Hickey was fatally wounded in Waterloo in February 2004. A police vehicle driven by a Redfern officer rammed TJ’s bike. He was impaled on the fence and died in hospital the next day. There has been a corrupt coronial inquest, and a cover-up by the NSW government and Redfern police, and continuous protests. But eight years later there is still no justice for the young Aboriginal man and his family.
More than 400 people crowded into a lecture theatre at the University of Technology on February 17 to attend a public forum, “Don’t shoot the messenger: WikiLeaks, Assange and Democracy”.   Speakers at the forum included socialist historian Humphrey McQueen, Greens Senator Scott Ludlum, London-based human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Christine Assange, the mother of Julian Assange.  
Twenty-four hours of global action to protest against the ongoing logging of Tasmanian forests took place on February 15. The article below first appeared on the Observer Tree blog on February 16. *** An incredible show of worldwide support led to more than 70 actions across 14 countries in 24 hours calling for an end to the destruction of Tasmania's forests.
Aboriginal rights activist Marianne Mackay urged people to come down to support the Nyoongar Tent Embassy on February 17. For more background on the protest, see Alex Bainbridge's article WA government deal to extinguish native title provokes protest
A Nyoongar Tent Embassy was established on Perth’s Heirisson Island on February 12 after the state government proposed to extinguish Nyoongar native title. The protesters made an urgent call for support after Perth City Council made its second threat to close the embassy down on February 17. Many of those taking a leading role in the Embassy are local Aboriginal activists recently returned from the 40-year commemoration of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.
Adelaide has a new social movement in town, yet with a familiar name: Occupy. The Occupy movement has been criticised for its lack of focus and demands, yet in Adelaide there is a clear focus for direct action: Rupert Murdoch. Hence the name: Occupy Murdoch. Occupy Murdoch specifically focuses on corporate controlled media, especially News Corporation. Adelaide's daily tabloid The Advertiser is a Murdoch paper that publishes rubbish dressed up as “news” to distract people and supports specific political interests.
At the beginning of the year, Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), the Sydney-based grassroots lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) campaign organisation, elected three new office-bearers. CAAH initiated national days of action for marriage rights rallies in 2006, has played a key role in equal marriage and queer refugee rights campaigning, and has supported trans and intersex rights struggles and mobilisations.
Socialist Alliance candidates for the upcoming Queensland state elections, Liam Flenady (South Brisbane), and Mike Crook (Sandgate), organised a rally in Brisbane on February 17 to “protest the rampant greed of the big banks”. Protesters outside the ANZ Bank state head office in Queen Street held placards, handed out leaflets to passersby and chanted, "No to the big bank rip-off!" and "shame, shame, ANZ!"
Just three chance encounters have led to a Sierra Leonean family’s reunion in Australia. With a bit more luck the whole family will be reunited this year. On January 6, 1999, Mary Fonah was a nurse working at a government hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Her husband, a doctor, phoned to say the rebels had reached Freetown. He would shortly collect Mary from the hospital after picking up their children.
“Plans for a new naval base in Brisbane should be rejected out of hand,” Liam Flenady, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of South Brisbane in the upcoming Queensland state elections, said on February 17. Flenady was responding to a statement in the February 14 South-East Advertiser by a local business leader advocating that a new naval base should be established at the Bulimba Military Barracks, on the banks of the Brisbane River.
The Hunter Community Environment Centre released the statement below on February 16. * * * The Paddock to Port public forum held on February 15 in Newcastle was attended by over 150 people. They unanimously passed a resolution to reject the proposed fourth coal terminal for Newcastle.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released the statement below on February 16. * * * A Tamil asylum seeker has been taken to hospital after attempting suicide by hanging in the early of hours of this morning, at the Darwin Airport Lodge detention facility. Around 12.30am, the man, who has been in detention for 27 months, was found by fellow asylum seekers hanging by a bed-sheet noose in a secluded part of the facility.
About 150 people attended a February 13 forum “Smuggled to Freedom” to hear SBS sports commentator Les Murray tell his family’s story of trying to escape political persecution in Hungary in 1956. He recently returned to find “Julius”, the so-called people smuggler who helped them cross the border to Austria. He said Julius was an unrecognised hero who helped countless families, despite the risk of the death penalty. “We demonise people who don’t deserve it,” Murray said. “My smuggler was no demon.”
Friends of the Earth Australia released the statement below on February 16. * * * The draft planning guidelines for wind farms in NSW, which are now open for public comment, have been labelled by environment group Friends of the Earth as inconsistent, too restrictive and politically motivated. “These guidelines talk about NSW planning to help Australia meet its 20% by 2020 Renewable Energy Target, but at the same time could pose severe restrictions on the options available to achieve that,” said Ben Courtice, renewable energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth.
Campaign group 100% Renewable Energy's key message for this year is “Let’s build big solar”. On its website, the group says: “In 2012, [we’ll] be focussing our efforts on finally doing what Australia should already be doing — building big solar!”   100% Renewable Energy ran a packed two-day activist training “Boot Camp" in Port Hacking, New South Wales, over the weekend of February 11 and 12. The Boot Camp attracted about 120 members of community and climate action groups from around the country.  
When we again protest this Easter, it will mark 10 years since the refugee rights movement’s first Easter convergence — Woomera 2002 — when busloads of protesters from across the country met magnificent protests by detainees, many of who leapt through the fence and literally into the arms of the movement.


The federal immigration department has drawn sharp criticism from refugee advocacy groups and Amnesty International for denying that refugee children continue to be held in detention. After Perth refugee activists visited the remote Leonora detention centre and reports emerged that children had been locked up for more than 12 months, the immigration department’s media manager, Sandi Logan, said on Twitter: “Misinformation about kids in detention centres is unhelpful, disingenuous. “As you know, kids are NOT detained in centres.”
The NSW Socialist Alliance released the statement below on February 18. * * * The NSW Socialist Alliance condemns the latest state electoral funding reform bill as a direct attack on democratic rights and collective organising in the state.
Now, I'll admit that my idea of poetry is watching Essendon’s Dyson Heppell, the AFL’s 2011 Rising Star award winner, float across half back, helping repel another opposition attack with his silky skills. But I like to think I know quality when I see it.
After recent threats to thousands of jobs in the aluminium, car and banking industries, Green Left Weekly spoke to Geelong Trades Hall secretary Tim Gooden about strategies to fight the job cuts. “Alcoa says 600 jobs are in danger, but there are 3500 more hanging off that,” Gooden told GLW. “If they close Point Henry [aluminium] smelter, it will hit the rolled products, and then the companies that use the rolled products.
Liberal backbenchers will have a “conscience vote” when a proposal for marriage equality is put to parliament. This puts the equality campaign closer to victory in Australia than it has ever been before. Members of the shadow cabinet, including junior frontbenchers, will still be required to maintain the party position, which will be decided unilaterally by Liberal leader Tony Abbott, and therefore bound to vote against marriage equality.
In September last year, the coal seam gas (CSG) industry launched a multimillion dollar advertising campaign called “We want CSG”. It is sponsored by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) — the peak national body for oil and gas exploration — which represents companies such as Shell, Santos, Origin Energy, British Gas, AGL, PetroChina and ConocoPhillips.
UPDATE: A rally for Jock Palfreeman will take place in London from 11am on March 15, outside the Bulgarian embassy. For more details visit the Facebook event page Jock Palfreeman Solidarity Demo In December 2009, then 23-year-old Australian Jock Palfreeman was sentenced to 20 years for murder in Sofia, Bulgaria. Two years earlier he had been involved in a fight against a gang of about 15 men, one of who died of a stab wound.
The Stop the War Coalition Sydney released the statement below on February 14. * * * The Stop the War Coalition opposes the use of sanctions or military action against Iran by the United States or Israel. These are clear violations of international law. We oppose all nuclear proliferation. We oppose Australian support for intervention against Iran. Despite the lies of the United States and Israel, Iran does not possess a nuclear weapons capacity.
A creditable result in last Saturday’s by-election has capped a very active and visible campaign by the Communist Party (CPA) and its supporters in the state seat of Port Adelaide.
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on February 11. * * * Labor and Liberals protecting profits not jobs Retool the car industry for public transport vehicles and renewable energy
As 2000 Aboriginal people and their supporters gathered at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Tent Embassy in Canberra, Coalition leader Tony Abbott said: “I can understand why the Tent Embassy was established all those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then… I think it probably is time to move on from that.”


The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples is inviting all friends of Cuba to join the sixth International Brigade of Volunteer Work and Solidarity with Cuba this May Day. The brigade runs from April 22 to May 6 this year. It aims to provide a wider understanding of Cuban reality and carry out volunteer work to support agricultural development in Cuba. The 15-day program includes visits to historical, economic, cultural and social places in Havana and the provinces of Artemisa and Pinar del Rio.
A United Nations Security Council (UNSC) motion condemning the Syrian regime's bloodshed and caling for a “transition to democracy” was vetoed on February 4 by Russia and China. United States officials condemned the move as “disgusting and shameful” and a “travesty”. The moral outrage expressed by the US was faithfully reported by the corporate Western media, which paid little attention to Washington’s own voting record in the UNSC.
The US-led international occupation force in Afghanistan (ISAF) is in the country to fight the Taliban as the ally of the Afghan state headed by President Hamid Karzai. The ISAF’s primary mission is training and mentoring the Afghan government forces so they can take over the fight, allowing the foreign forces to leave. That is the official story. But casualties suffered by ISAF soldiers are increasingly being inflicted not by the Taliban but by the soldiers they are meant to be mentoring.
Six Zimbabwean socialists are charged with “inciting public violence” (which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment). They were arrested on February 19 while meeting to watch video footage of democracy protests in Egypt and Tunisia. The February 16 letter from Zimbabwe below explains the latest developments. * * *
Residents of the Gaza City neighbourhood al-Tuffah suffered a rude awakening at 2am on February 16 when Israeli warplanes targeted what the army said was a Hamas training site. The shelling left six people injured, including members of two civil defence rescue teams. Civil defence said a firetruck and an ambulance were hit by Israeli missiles as the crew responded to earlier strikes. Israeli sources said the attacks came in response to rocket fire from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns. The crude rockets landed in open fields; no casualties were reported.
A new twist in the turbulent saga surrounding a proposed roadway through indigenous land has reignited a debate raging throughout Bolivia since the middle of last year. The controversial highway ― which would cut through the Isiboro-Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) ― has been at the centre of protests and counter-protests. It has polarised Bolivian society and divided indigenous groups that are the heart of the Evo Morales government’s social base.
Huge student protests that broke out last year gave a tremendous jolt to Chilean society, as reflected even by public opinion polls. When La Nacion asked a group of poll takers to name the best thing about 2011, 63% answered the student and environment mobilisations, compared with just 17% who chose the University of Chile soccer team, which won the South American cup at the end of November. Just 3% chose the Cervantes Prize, the big Spanish-language literary prize, which was awarded to Chilean writer Nicanor Parra.
Working class struggle is an important part of modern Chinese history, and is rising In a late industrialising country, the Chinese working class emerged and became organised only in the early 20th century after the country was forced to open up to global capitalism. However, shaped by harsh economic exploitation and foreign semi-colonial domination, China’s working class quickly established itself in the space of a few decades. This culminated in mass protests and strikes between 1925 and 1927.
Hundreds of thousands protested around the Athens parliament on February 12. Tens of thousands protested in Thessaloniki, the country's second biggest city, and sizeable protests took place in other Greek cities. The rallies followed a 48-hour strike over February 10-11. They were organised in opposition to the new austerity package signed by the Greek government and the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union (EU). See also:
Australian journalist Austin Mackell, United States student Derek Ludovici and Egyptian translator Aliya Alwi are facing charges of inciting people to vandalise public property after being detained by the police in the Egyptian city of Mahalla El-Kubra on February 11.
When a regime loses it ... Green Left journalist Afrodity Giannakis, in Thessaloniki, collects below some of the great words of the great Greek politicians in the days of the savage austerity imposed on the country. Who said that pro-austerity Greek politicians are just insensitive blood-sucking beasts? Below are some great quotes expressing their finer human side. Other quotes display their deep appreciation of various artistic trends. For more details on the horrific austerity being imposed on Greece, read Giannakis's most recent article
Lisbon's vast Palace Square became People's Square on February 12. More than 300,000 workers, young people, unemployed and pensioners from across Portugal marched to voice their rejection of cutbacks inflicted by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's government. It was the country's biggest demonstration in 30 years. Photo slide shows of the mass march can be seen here and here
Khader Adnan is a 33-year-old Palestinian husband and father. As of February 14, he was 59 days into a hunger strike and perilously close to death. He has been held by Israel since December without any charge or trial under an Israeli "administrative detention" order. Such orders violate international law. There is an urgent need for international action to save Adnan's life and -- beyond that -- force Israel to abolish administrative detention orders (under which someone who is held is denied access to the evidence being used to justify holding them). See also:
UPDATE: On February 21, Khader Adnan and all who support him won a big victory. Israel finally caved into pressure and signed a deal with Adnan under which he ended his 66-day hunger strike in return for Israel pledging to release him from administrative detention (that is -- without charge) by April 17.


Panic By David Marr Black Inc., 2011 262 pages, $29.95 (pb) Panic. “It’s so Australian,” says the dejected journalist, David Marr in his book of essays on the rise, decline and rise again of political panics in Australia. Panic over the Chinese was the “midwife of Federation”, and subsequent alarms about German spies in World War I, Wobblies and Reds in the 1920s, Communists in the Depression, and the Red Menace all over again after World War II have kept the scares coming.
Politically progressive post-hardcore band Enter Shikari say they only have to look at their fans to get a sense that the world can change for the better. “The past few years we've seen a huge increase in people that come up and thank us for singing about the things we do,” Rou Reynolds, frontman of the British band, tells Green Left Weekly. “Usually, while standing at your merchandise table after a show you'd get 'great show, love your music’ and so on, but such a big percentage of people now also express gratitude and solidarity with our lyrical standing.
Which Side Are You On? Ani DiFranco Righteous Babe Records By Barry Healy Which Side Are You On? is Veteran United States indie folk artist Ani DiFranco’s first CD release in years and her legion of fans will be pleased to hear that she has lost none of her edge. Rambling in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, she half sings, half talks through a catalogue of contemporary issues, including human relationships and social oppression.


Rupert Murdoch’s media empire does not have a TV network like Fox News in Australia — at least not yet. But he does have the sole national newspaper, The Australian, which is busy running a Fox News-style smear campaign against the Australian Greens. Anxious at the Greens’ growing electoral success, the paper said in a 2010 editorial that it planned to have the Greens “destroyed”.

Fighting Fund

A string of banks, airlines, car manufacturers and aluminium smelters — all big corporations that have profited for years while extorting billions of dollars in public subsidies — have spat in the face of our society. They have begun huge sackings of workers, even though Australia supposedly escaped the worst of capitalism’s global economic crisis. The big banks have posted record profits, but they refuse to pass on interest rate cuts to families struggling to keep up with huge home mortgages.


Media coverage distracts from the real crime What is all the she-said-he-said fuss about Unions ACT secretary Kim Sattler and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy protest on January 26? 1) The meaning of Abbott's comments was that it was time for the Tent Embassy to close. 2) As ABC's Media Watch pointed out on February 6, both AAP and Radio 2UE had been broadcasting all morning that Abbott had said the embassy "had to go" or "shut down".


If you have just begun studying, welcome to university. If you’ve been looking through the pamphlets and advertising material for your campus of choice, you’ve probably been led to believe that university largely revolves around sitting on lawns on nice days laughing with attractive young people. If you’ve been watching too many American films, you might be expecting wild parties and crazy weekends. Or if you’re academically minded, you might just be expecting to broaden your horizons with new and exotic ideas.