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Palestinian resistance fighter and founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), George Habash, died on January 26 from a heart attack, aged 81.
A snap vigil in Martin Place on January 31 was called by the General Union of Palestinian Workers and others in the Palestinian community to demand an end to the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Forty people attended the vigil, held near the US consulate. They held candles in solidarity with Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, deprived of basic living necessities, including electricity, by the siege.
On February 1, 100 people gathered outside the State Library of Victoria to protest the Israeli siege of Gaza. The protest was initiated by the Melbourne Palestine Solidarity Network and organised by a wide range of groups including Australians for Palestine, Women for Palestine, Melbourne Stop the War Coalition, Federation of Muslim Students and Youth, Socialist Alliance and Resistance.
At 6am on January 29, environmental activists from the Bellarine Seastar — an arm of the Blue Wedges Coalition — crammed onto the Point Lonsdale pier, on the western side of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, to protest the arrival in the bay of the giant Dutch dredging ship, the Queen of the Netherlands.
On January 28, 40 people gathered at Latin America Plaza, outside Central Station, to mark the 155th anniversary of the birth of Cuba’s national hero, Jose Marti.
On January 27, Germany’s newest and third-largest party, Die Linke (The Left), scored historic victories in two important state elections, as anger grows at the failure of the economic boom to close the gap between rich and poor.
On January 23, a series of explosions ripped open the concrete and steel barrier that had sealed off the Gaza Strip from the outside world. The breach in the barrier allowed hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians, perhaps a third of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, to surge into the Egyptian cross-border town of Rafah to buy some of life’s basic necessities — denied them by Israel’s siege of the 10 kilometre wide, 40-kilometre long Palestinian enclave.
Indigenous Affairs Minster Jenny Macklin announced on January 30 that the federal government will make a formal apology to the stolen generations — the 13,000 Aboriginal children who were forcibly removed from their parents as part of a government policy of assimilation — on February 13, the day after the first sitting of the new parliament. Despite calls by Aboriginal groups to include a compensation plan, PM Kevin Rudd’s government has continued to rule out any national compensation fund to go with the apology.
Australia’s new Labor government is in denial on the seriousness of climate change. That much is shown by its inadequate target of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60% by 2050. But more on that later.
The Last Breath
By Denise Mina
Random House Australia, 2007
352 pages, $32.00 (pb)
Labour rights groups around the world are calling for the immediate release of Mehedi Hasan, a Bangladeshi field investigator for the US-based Workers Rights Consortium.
The following letter of solidarity with the crew of the customs ship, Triton, taken over in Darwin by its sacked crew, was sent on January 29.