The Refugee Action Collective Victoria released this statement on November 27. *** Omid, an Iranian asylum seeker, 35 years old has been on hunger strike for 47 days including four days of refusing water A statement from asylum seekers on Nauru late last night (26/11/12) said:
Between three and four hundred people marched through the streets of Perth on November 24 in the latest rally for marriage equality. Speakers noted that recent votes in federal parliament had not resulted in equal marriage rights in Australia yet, however, internationally and locally the momentum is building.
About 600 people rallied in Melbourne to defend Gaza on November 23. They gathered to protest against Israel's siege and to remember the victims of Israel's bombing attacks that killed 120 people that week. Indigenous community leader Robbie Thorpe said "Australia is based on stolen land. It is part of the global genocide network that supports Israel." Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi:
About 600 people rallied for marriage equality in Melbourne on November 24. Other rallies took part around Australia. Jason Ball, the first openly queer AFL player, was a guest speaker at the event. "I figured I was gay when I was 16 years old," he said. "I knew that I would be treated differently. I was terrified I would disappoint my family. It was no surprise to me that queer and transgender youth are six times [more] likely to suffer depression or contemplate suicide. I wanted to be myself.
About 1500 people rallied and marched in Sydney on November 24 in solidarity with the people of Gaza and the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and war. Speakers were: As'ad Awashra, Palestinian student from the West Bank; Ahmad Mustafa, Palestinian Cultural Centre; Ray Jackson, Indigenous Social Justice Association; Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator; Lynda Voltz, NSW Labor MLC; Paul MacAleer, Maritime Union of Australia; Antony Loewenstein, Independent journalist and author; Fr Dave Smith, Holy Trinity Anglican church. A powerful poem was performed by Candy Royalle.
This statement was released by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition on November 24. *** Nauru asylum seekers have renewed their hunger strike protest after rejecting the Nauru Foreign Minister’s proposal to begin initial interviews for the asylum seekers. More than 40 people in the last two days have joined the hunger strike from all the nationalities represented on Nauru — Iranian, Iraqi, Pakistani, Afghan and Sri Lankan.
The dispute between Little Creatures Brewery and Geelong’s workers over the use of sham contracting has continued into its fourth week. The dispute began on October 22. Two unions have been hit with injunctions, preventing them from taking part in the protests. A coach carrying 14 people, hired by Western Australian stainless steel making company the TFG Group, arrived on the morning of November 19. About a dozen protesters were still at the brewery gates. As it approached, the bus sped up scattering protesters and police alike.
The Western Australian government granted final approval to the Woodside gas hub at James Price Point, near Broome on November 19. The statement below was released by the Broome Community No Gas Campaign on November 19. *** Over 200 people gathered on Cable Beach on November 18 and unfurled a banner calling for governments at all levels to “Protect the Kimberley”. The banner came from the John Butler Concert for the Kimberley held recently at Federation Square, Melbourne.
About 300 people rallied in Melbourne on November 24 to oppose the ongoing harassment of Fertility Control Clinic patients and staff by Christian fanatics. The rally was organised by Melbourne Feminist Action (MFA), a new initiative campaigning for women's rights. Even though Victorian women won the legal right to abortion in 2008, access remains difficult for many women. The clinic is picketed daily and anti-abortion crusaders march once a month after mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral to the clinic.
In the dead of night on November 22, 100 containers of concentrated rare earth ore mined in Western Australia began to be transported, under heavy police escort, through the port of Kuantan to a new refinery built by Australian company Lynas. This took place just two days after 19 local residents travelled to Sydney to protest at the company's annual general meeting and while another group of protesters were on a 300 kilometre protest march to Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur over the issue.
Locals in Hobart held a rally on November 21 in support for the people in Gaza, Palestine. Photos by Kelly Tall.
Environment groups The Wilderness Society, Environment Tasmania and the Australian Conservation Foundation signed a “forest peace deal” with the Forest Industry Association of Tasmania on November 22. Still Wild Still Threatened and the Huon Valley Environment Centre released the statement below on November 23. ***
An action was organised by the Refugee Action Coalition on November 23 to protest the re-opening of the Australian immigration detention camps in Manus Is (PNG) and Nauru. It was held outside the office of Tanya Plibersek, the federal minister for health, in Sydney. A letter of protest was delivered at the end of the action. Photos by Peter Boyle.
The Wilderness Society released the statement below on November 18. * * * Western Australian Environment Minister Bill Marmion’s approval of the James Price Point gas processing precinct in the Kimberley is so completely flawed that Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke can only reject the WA assessment, which breaches the Strategic Assessment Agreement between the two governments in many ways.
Activists in Melbourne rallied on November 22 to protest the decision to send asylum seekers to detention on Manus Island.
Shawan Jabarin is the director general of Al Haq, the first human rights organisation in Palestine, formed in 1979. Jabarin has won many human rights awards, was Amnesty's first Palestinian prisoner of conscience, and has been denied travel outside the West Bank for many years.
Groups campaigning to stop the roll out of coal seam gas (CSG) mining have slammed federal resources minister Martin Ferguson for his attack on two Southern Cross University scientists who released results of their research into the CSG industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Britain is a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. But despite its international legal obligations as signatory to this and other human rights conventions, the reception granted to those knocking on Britain’s door in hope of protection is far from welcoming or humane. In fact, Britain appears to be doing everything in its power to keep its doors tightly closed to those often referred to as “scroungers,” “terrorists,” “economic migrants,” or other “bogus” refugees hiding behind a smokescreen of asylum ― adding deadbolts by the day.
Calls for greater transparency for the Victorian legal system have been issued after it was revealed a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy was locked in solitary confinement for almost four months in an adult prison. Following an escape attempt from Parkville Youth Justice Precinct in July, the boy was transferred to Port Phillip Prison. He was held in a cell for 22 hours a day, and allowed only two hours in the exercise yard while handcuffed. The treatment is in breach of the Victorian Human Rights Charter.
Socialist Alternative has sparked a debate about whether socialists should be involved in feminist campaigns in an article published on its website on November 22 "Jill Meagher, Reclaim the Night and the political right".
Jews Against the Occupation (JAO) respond to their critics on everything from claims that 'Israel is a democracy' to 'you are not real Jews', from why they support BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) to why they see Israel as an 'apartheid state'. They also explain where their anti-occupation stance came from and why they started to question Zionism (support for an exclusively Jewish state). Contact Jews Against the Occupation at jao.org.au
Labor is making a full-scale assault on the right of refugees to seek protection, as it continues to fill the Nauru detention camp, forcibly deport hundreds back to Sri Lanka before hearing their claims for asylum and keep thousands in perpetual limbo in the name of “deterrence”. Now, the federal government has revealed its plans for the almost 8000 people that have arrived seeking asylum by boat in recent months. The plan is worse than the extreme temporary protection visas introduced by the former John Howard Government.
NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced on November 16 plans to sack albout 700 railway workers and split up RailCorp. Green Left Weekly’s Fred Fuentes asked Socialist Alliance member and railway union activist, John Coleman about the motives behind these plans and what they will mean for Sydney’s public transport system. The NSW government has said that the job cuts are mainly focused on cutting waste among middle-level management. Can you tell us what the cuts are really about?
Hundreds of childcare workers rallied on the steps of the Victorian state parliament on November 17. The rally was organised by United Voice as part of its Big Steps campaign, a national push to improve wages and conditions in the childcare industry. After speeches from union delegates and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the crowd marched to the Victorian Treasury gardens.
Adding to the list of punitive “law and order” measures that has been implemented in Victoria over the past few years is the latest installment of this agenda: the proposed “anti-bikie” laws, which are inspired in part by the federal “anti-terrorism” laws. While popularly justified on the basis of combating “bikie gangs”, the Criminal Organisations Control Bill 2012 is better understood as a bill that can limit the ability of citizens to engage in democracy, civil society, and of citizens to associate with one another.
Simon Butler, coauthor with Ian Angus of Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis, gave the speech below to a November 17 seminar in Sydney, “Sustainable population: towards a meaningful dialogue,” organised by the Nature Conservation Society of NSW. * * *
Staff and students from across all six University of Western Sydney (UWS) campuses protested on November 21, in opposition to university management plans to axe several courses. Among the courses to go are Arabic, Spanish, Italian, the Bachelor of Communication sub-majors in writing, performance and animation, and the entire Economics degree. Along with these, the jobs of 29 academics in the School of Business and a further 25 in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts will be cut.
The violence Israel has unleashed on the Gaza Strip is not a war. On one side there is a highly militarised state, with one of the best equipped armed forces in the world, generously subsidised by billions of dollars in Western military and non-military aid. On the other side there are 1.5 million people, subjects of this state, which has herded them into a walled ghetto on which it imposes a starvation siege.
Wasn’t it somewhere in Switzerland where a mad scheme was hatched to join disparate parts together to create a new composite monster? In Mary Shelley’s 1818 gothic novel, the resulting creature has become popularly known as Frankenstein (actually the name of the monster’s creator). Today another Swiss monster has come into being: Frankencorp (a.k.a. “Glenstrata”). Swiss-based Glencore, the world’s largest commodities trading firm, and Swiss-based Xstrata, one of the largest mining companies, merged after shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour on November 20.
The capitalist press has been overloaded with the sex scandal of General David Petraeus, former commander US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his resignation as head of the CIA. The story has morphed into something wider, drawing in other high officers. I’ll return to the saga of the “Real Housewives of the High Command” below, but first I want to discuss a story that has received only scant attention, about one of the grunts who was on the ground in Afghanistan.
Politics in the Spanish state is a Rubik’s cube where all players must mark out their position on the axis of the rights of its nationalities, as well as class struggle and social justice. All-out warfare on both fronts marked the final week of the campaign for the November 25 elections for the Catalan parliament, as the nine parties with a chance of winning representation in its 135-seat chamber traded blows.
Israel's latest attack on Gaza killed about 32 times more Palestinians than Israelis killed by Palestinian rockets. But few who followed mainstream media reports would realise this fact. When the ceasefire was announced on November 21, 161 Palestinians and five Israelis had been killed in the attacks, CBSnews.com said. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that by November 20, 66% of Palestinians killed were civilians. Of the more than 900 Palestinians injured, 97% were civilians.
Dr Mazim Qumsiyeh is Palestine’s leading intellectual. His recently published book Popular Resistance in Palestine is a meticulous history of non-violent resistance in Palestine since Ottoman times. A professor who teaches and does research at three Palestinian universities (Bethlehem, Birzeit, Al-Quds), Qumsiyeh previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke and Yale Universities. He is also chair of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between Peoples.
As soon as Israel attacked Gaza in its “Operation Pillar of Defence”, it was clear the context in which its war was launched was very different from “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008-09. The shift in regional context is largely due to the Arab Spring, which has shaken the Middle East. The most concerning development from Israel's point of view was Egypt's January 25 revolution, which overthrew US- and Israel-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak last year.
Thousands of people marched through Dublin on November 17 to protest against the death of dentist Savita Halappanavar, who died of blood poisoning after being refused an abortion. More than 10,000 people gathered for a vigil and march over the death and the country's draconian abortion laws. A minute's silence was held at Merrion Square by the crowd, followed by chants of “never again”. Irish doctors appear to have judged that leaving Ms Halappanavar for two days with a fully opened cervix did not present any risk of the infection from which she eventually died.
Renowned Jewish-American academic and author Noam Chomsky visited the Gaza Strip over October 25-30. The article below, on the suffering of the Gazan people, is areprinted from www.chomsky.info. * * *
In a clear indication of Israel’s shocking callousness and disregard for civilian lives, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon today told PRI’s The Takeaway that most of those killed and injured in Israel’s eight day long bombardment of the Gaza Strip “deserved it.”
In Peter Watkins' remarkable BBC film, The War Game, which foresaw the aftermath of an attack on London with a one-megaton nuclear bomb, the narrator says: “On almost the entire subject of thermo-clear weapons, there is now practically total silence in the press, official publications and on TV. Is there hope to be found in this silence?” The truth of this statement was equal to its irony. On November 24, 1965, the BBC banned The War Game as “too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting”.
The Israeli army has hidden from public view a YouTube video that suggested UN-run schools in Gaza were used as rocket launching bases after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) strongly denied the allegations.
To start with, why do the news channels ask Tony Blair for his advice on conflict in the Middle East? It’s like asking Gary Glitter for advice on what to do about Jimmy Savile. But somehow it fits with the rest of the coverage. A report yesterday morning began with the sentence: “Rockets have continued to be fired from both sides...” Then, to illustrate this, we saw a demolished building in Gaza in which 11 people had perished, and a woman in Israel standing next to her car with a smashed windscreen.
Let's start with a fact. On November 16, the Israeli Air Force bombed the 10,000-seat Palestine Stadium “into ruins”. The stadium also headquartered the centre for youth sports programs throughout the Gaza Strip. This is the second time Israel has flattened the facility. The first was in 2006 and the people of Gaza have spent the past six years rebuilding the fields, stands and offices to keep the national soccer team as well as club sports alive in the region. * * *
Abdel Jabbar Madouri has been a militant in Tunisia from his early secondary school days. He was jailed three times (in 1987, 1993 and 2002) because of his political activism. After every arrest, he was tortured, then sentenced to more than 12 years in jail. Madouri spent four years living underground during the Ben Ali regime, which was overthrown in January last year -- sparking the “Arab Spring”. He was also deprived of the right to work or to obtain a passport.
Rod Quantock, the “Australian institution” of comedy, is set to headline a special one-off comedy show in Marrickville, Sydney, on December 8 in aid of the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network (AFTINET). Quantock ― winner of the Melbourne Comedy Festival 2012’s Director’s Choice Award ― will be joined at the Red Rattler by comedians Matt Wakefield, Alice Fraser, Justine Rogers and James Colley, as well as resident Englishman, Jazz Twemlow for the benefit gig.
BHP used to be called “The Big Australian”. It is now BHP Billiton — a global corporation, the largest mining company in the world and the largest Australian headquartered corporation by market capitalisation. Its CEO Marius Kloppers is described as being one of "the top 20 most powerful people in business worldwide".
The federal government has begun “trials” of a controversial new plan for compulsory income management in five places around Australia. This policy began in the Northern Territory as part of the "NT intervention" in 2007, but is now expanding into other states and territories.