Issue 975

News

Support WikiLeaks and Assange Coalition released this statement on July 31. *** The conviction of US Private First Class Bradley Manning for 19 offences, including five counts of espionage, is a travesty of justice. Manning is not a spy who betrayed his country, but a courageous whistleblower who acted on his conscience when he leaked US government documents to WikiLeaks. He should have been commended, not prosecuted, for revealing evidence of war crimes, human rights abuses and corruption.
About 2000 people joined the second march and rally in Sydney on July 28 against prime minister Kevin Rudd's plan to send refugees who arrive in Australia by boat to Papua New Guinea. This was significantly bigger than the previous weekend's protest. Another rally and march will be held on August 4, 2pm at Sydney Town Hall Square. Photos by Pip Hinman and Peter Boyle.
Socialist Alliance released this statement on July 30. *** Newly endorsed Socialist Alliance candidates for the Senate in NSW, Jim McIlroy and Reg Dare, said: "The current hysteria against asylum seekers, pushed by both the Kevin Rudd government and the Liberal opposition, is aimed at drawing public attention away from the real source of economic insecurity in this country — the billionaires and their stolen wealth.
There was standing room only at the Collingwood Health Centre as about 200 people met on July 20 to oppose the East-West tunnel and tollway. The road plan threatens to demolish homes, spew fumes onto a primary school and childcare centre, and destroy wetlands and parks in Melbourne’s west. Yarra councillor and Socialist Party member Stephen Jolly said the campaign was not a lost cause, but a long-term fight. He urged people to look at the legal and political options, as well as mass actions and pickets if work went ahead on the project.
About 100 people rallied outside the Downing Centre Court in Sydney on July 23 to support Jonathan Moylan, the environmental activist who is facing charges under the Corporations Act for his alleged "hoax" that exposed ANZ bank's funding of mining activities by Whitehaven Coal, which threaten community health and agricultural land at Maules Creek, as well as the survival of koala populations in Leard State Forest in northern NSW.
The WikiLeaks Party formally announced its Senate candidates on July 25. Three candidates will be standing for the Senate in Victoria, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, author and Monash University gender studies lecturer Leslie Cannold, and RMIT law lecturer Binoy Kampmark. Two candidates will stand in the Senate in NSW — human rights lawyer Kellie Tranter and former diplomat Alison Broinowski. Another two candidates, refugee activist Gerry Georgatos and president of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance Suresh Rajan, will run for the Senate in Western Australia.
Mass stopwork meetings of NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) members on July 24 resolved that: "Public health system nurses and midwives will escalate their community and workplace campaign to convince the NSW government that the nursing hours/ratios system should be extended to more clinical areas, and improved to guarantee the same minimum levels in all hospitals in NSW.
A former Tehran University student, Behzad Bargheri, spoke to 50 people at a public meeting on Iran on July 20. Bargheri told the meeting in Melbourne that during the 1980s the Islamic Republic regime took “harsh and bloody measures” to suppress the left. Many thousands of leftists were arrested, tortured and murdered. The universities were closed for several years. When they reopened they had been purged of leftist students.
The following motion was passed by Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) executive council on July 26. *** “The VTHC believes refugees should not be punished for fleeing war and persecution to seek asylum. This is a right granted to all people under Australian and international law. “There are over 10 million refugees in the world. “Last year, Australia granted 13,759 humanitarian visas. This is less than 0.2% of the world’s refugees. Australia ranks 12th in the world by GDP, yet we rank 71st in taking refugees by GDP. By any measure, we do not do our fair share.
The New South Wales government recently announced it would privatise the state's largest remaining port in Newcastle for an estimated $700 million. Coal exports are expected to double from 135 million tonnes over the next 20 years after the state government's recent expansion of the port. It will be subject to a 99-year lease under the sell-off deal. State treasurer Mike Baird announced the plan as part of the budget.
The Beyond Nuclear Initiative and Uranium Free NSW released this statement on July 25. *** On July 25 and 26, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering held a conference in Sydney titled “Nuclear Energy for Australia?” The conference might be framed as a question but the answer is predictable given that the majority of keynote speakers were from organisations in favour of developing a nuclear power industry in Australia, including industry representative bodies and pro-nuclear think tanks.
This guide was created by the Refugee Action Collective Victoria. The Regional Resettlement Arrangement The new arrangement is called the Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RRA), and it goes further than the "Pacific Solution Mark II" introduced by former prime minister Julia Gillard last year. It allows Australia to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement.

Analysis

James Packer’s $1.4 billion Crown Casino development at Barangaroo on Sydney Harbour was approved by the NSW government on July 5. The high-rollers’ casino will reach 70 storeys, with 350 six-star rooms and 80 luxury apartments. It will be designed to attract the so-called whales of the gambling world.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said recently that the rising number of Iranian asylum seekers coming to Australia are “economic migrants”. The overall rate of asylum seekers has increased this year and Iranians have become the largest group of people arriving by boat, making up about one third of the total.
Doug Lorimer, a life-long committed revolutionary, died on July 21 in Sydney after a year of fighting deteriorating ill health and long term hospitalisation. Lorimer was born April 17, 1953 in Dundee in Scotland and migrated to Australia with his parents Connie and Bill when he was four years old to settle in the South Australian steel town of Whyalla. Lorimer radicalised as a high school student. He first became involved in left politics through the Australian movement against the imperialist war in Vietnam, when he and his mother joined the moratorium marches in Adelaide in 1970.
Sam Wainwright gave this speech at a refugee rights rally in Perth on July 20. *** A statement by famous British Labour MP and socialist Tony Benn said: “The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.” What he was getting at is that the fear and loathing of refugees is a deliberate concoction. The refugee crisis is real, but the fear and loathing of refugees that’s generated in our media and the general population, is a deliberate and cynical concoction.
Access to affordable housing should be recognised as a basic human right. In a wealthy country such as Australia it should be supported by government policy at all levels, with the planning systems and infrastructure to deliver it. For decades, Australia’s minerals and energy export boom has delivered huge profits. But this wealth has not been distributed equally or fairly. For example, in Western Australia, in the heart of the mining boom, people on lower incomes have been squeezed out of the housing market altogether, and have suffered from reduced access to other services.
In their relentless race to the bottom on refugee policy, the two big parties in Australia try their best to focus the public's attention on a so-called battle to stop the “people smugglers”. This is supposed to justify the policy of indefinitely detaining, torturing and expelling the few thousand desperate refugees who try to get to Australia on leaky boats from Indonesia. But what about targeting the real criminals, the refugee makers?
The so-called riot that burned down much of the Nauru detention camp began as a peaceful protest by refugees wanting their asylum processing to begin. The July 19 protests by almost all of the 500 men held in the compound “was not borne out of malice,” the Salvation Army said in a statement on July 23. “It was a build up of pressure and anxiety over 10 months of degrading treatment, and a planned peaceful protest that degenerated. It was a reaction to a refugee processing system that is devoid of logic and fairness.”
Anyone with even superficial experience with how aged people are treated would be disgusted and outraged by the standards of most nursing homes, a result of neoliberal policies in Australia. An investigation by ABC TV’s Lateline on July 15 found many elderly people living in aged care facilities are grossly neglected. Advocacy groups have called it “a national human rights emergency”. The issue typically gets mentioned in the media only when a spectacle is involved, like a fire in a nursing home that costs lives.
This month, Tamils around the world are commemorating the 30th anniversary of a massacre in which an estimated 3000 people were killed. In a week beginning July 24, 1983, Tamils across the island of Sri Lanka were attacked by Sinhalese mobs, while the army and police looked on, or even joined in the attacks. In some cases the mobs were led by government ministers. The July 1983 massacre was the culmination of a series of anti-Tamil riots, beginning in 1956.
Julia Hocken interviewed 25-year-old Liam Flenady who is running as the Socialist Alliance candidate in the seat of Griffith, held by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. *** When did you first decide to become an activist and to join Socialist Alliance? I became politically active around 2010, so not very long ago. Prior to that I had followed political issues, and like many people pricked up my ears around election time.

World

Palestinian teacher and activist Sireen Khudiri, 25, was released from an Israeli prison on July 15 after two months in jail. A court decision was made to release her on bail worth 7000 shekels ($2483). Khudiri is now home with her family. Many people wrote letters and signed petitions to protest Khudiri’s jailing, promoted awareness of her situation or posted or wrote messages of support. It is likely these efforts had an impact in helping free Khudiri.
Millions protesters of were again in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities on July 26, both for and against the former Muslim Brotherhood government. Security forces attacked the pro-Morsi protesters, killing many in a fresh massacre. Ahram Online reported that these were the largest mobilisations since the June 30 protests that brought down the elected, but increasingly unpopular, Muslim Brotherhood-aligned government of President Mohamed Morsi.
Since it was founded in 1948, the Israeli state has neglected the rights of Palestinian children, who have been deliberately ill-treated. Many Palestinian children have been killed, injured, jailed, tortured or used as human shields by Israel.
The hunger strike by more than 1000 prisoners in California's jails entered its third week on July 23. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has refused to negotiate or address the strikers' five main demands, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) said on July 23.
The suffocating heat wave that struck the north-east United States in recent days brought new attention to the harsh conditions that thousands of low-wage workers endure every day of the year. While millions of New York City residents pondered how to escape from stifling temperatures, workers at a McDonald's in Manhattan's Washington Heights were being forced to work in a real-life “Hell's Kitchen”.
Protesters were out in more than 100 US cities on July 20, venting their anger after George Zimmerman was cleared of murdering Trayvon Martin. They demanded federal prosecutors bring civil rights charges against the former Florida neighbourhood watch leader who successfully argued he acted in self-defence after trailing the unarmed black teen, confronting him and then shooting him dead. The Justice for Trayvon rallies were organised by civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network.
In the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his murderer, George Zimmerman, the police department in Columbia, Missouri, seems intent on following in the steps of their Sanford, Florida counterparts. At a time when many feel that an inherently racist system has declared open season on young Black men, Brandon Coleman was murdered in Columbia — and police and city leaders have offered little in the way of assistance, at the scene of the crime or in the aftermath of the killing.
The conversations started in June between Venezuela and the United States have definitively ended, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on July 20 at an event of the Strategic Regions of Integral Defense (REDI) in Cojedes state. “My policy is zero tolerance to gringo aggression against Venezuela,” Maduro said. “I'm not going to accept any aggression, whether it be verbal, political, or diplomatic. “Enough is enough. Stay over there with your empire, don't involve yourselves anymore in Venezuela.”
When I reported from South Africa in the 1960s, the Nazi admirer Johannes Vorster occupied the prime minister's residence in Cape Town. Thirty years later, as I waited at the gates, it was as if the guards had not changed. White Afrikaners checked my ID with the confidence of men in secure work. One carried a copy of Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela's autobiography. “It's very eenspirational,” he said.
“The Canadian government is forcing me to divorce my wife.” With these words, Salvadoran refugee and long-time Canadian resident Jose Figueroa sums up the devastatingly cruel situation he and his family find themselves in. The human rights situation in El Salvador from the 1970s to the '90s was dire. A vicious right-wing military dictatorship, supported financially and morally by the United States government. Widespread murder and torture of innocent people, often through the use of death squads, which were trained in the US.

Culture

On July 26, radical hip-hop producer Agent of Change released a "beat tape" to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution. Agent of Change, also known as London-based activist and writer Carlos Martinez, said: "The 18 hip-hop instrumentals - with a couple of feature verses from Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela - celebrate Cuban culture, drawing influence and samples from Cuba’s diverse musical heritage."
Where on my body are your eyes zigzagging? I die for you!! The hungry bludger gambling With the lice in my empty pocket and still hung over in the Zipper’s ducts Where have muted body parts been penetrated by the drill With shafts as thick as Imperialism Whose begging is never ending, as the “Taleban” that you are? Laughter is wounded, And Samarkand, with a skirt full of pebbles And a hole, the forbidden commodity of the black market. Hole, hole! Oh, so ruthless Fascism has had no mercy To the body, to the rectum, to the shoulder blade, Even to the damp pants
Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; A Play in Three Acts CLR James, edited by Christian Hogsbjerg Duke University Press 2013 222 pp., $47.99 Hegel, Haiti & Universal History Susan Buck-Moss University of Pittsburgh Press 2009 176 pp., $89.99 “I was born a slave, but nature gave me the soul of a free man,” said Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the successful Haitian slave revolt of 1791 to 1804.

Fighting Fund

US military lead prosecutor Major Ashden Fein summed up his case against Bradley Manning for "aiding the enemy" with these chilling words: "He was not a troubled young soul. He was a determined soldier with the knowledge, ability and desire to harm the United States in its war effort. "Your honor, he was not a whistleblower, he was traitor." We totally disagree. Manning witnessed a terrible crime and he reported it to the people of the world using the most effective available news medium — WikiLeaks.