Twenty people attended a September 28 Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) meeting to hear Bruce Campbell, from the WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committe, discuss the campaign for justice for Mr Ward. On Invasion Day (January 26) 2008, Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder, was arrested and died of heat stroke in the back of a prison van the next day while being taken 360km in 42°C heat.
During recent protests in Villawood Detention Centre that followed the September 20 suicide of detained Fijian exile Josefa Rauluni, detainees who tried to help rooftop protesters with water and blankets were stopped by security. One man was bashed.
The 2008 election of Barack Obama appeared to herald a new dawn for 12 million undocumented immigrants, many of them laboring in the US’s most exhausting and underpaid workplaces. The president’s own aunt, 58-year-old Zeituni Onyango, was forced to live “without papers” in Boston when a judge rejected her original petition for asylum in 2004. So it seemed Obama would be sympathetic to the plight of immigrants at least. However, mounting evidence indicates life is becoming increasingly miserable for the undocumented population in the US.
The counting of votes in the September 19 Swedish parliamentary elections sent out shock waves. The far right won its first parliamentary seats, and for the first time in modern Swedish political history, an incumbent non-Social Democrats government has been able to win a national election. As such, the process of dismantling the Swedish welfare state is set to continue unabated. The governing right-wing Alliance emerged as the largest bloc, but failed to keep its majority. With 173 seats, it is two seats short of controlling the assembly on its own.
On September 14, the French Senate passed legislation that will make the wearing of either a burqa or niqab — Islamic dress worn by some Muslim women that covers the face — illegal in public. The ban was motivated by President Nicolas Sarkozy as an important step in winning equality for women. Opponents of the ban labeled it racist, but, importantly, it is also fundamentally sexist.
On September 15, France’s Senate passed a bill banning women from wearing full Islamic face veils such as the burqa and niqab. Similar laws are being considered in other European countries. In the New South Wales Legislative Council, Christian fundamentalist MLC Fred Nile has introduced a private member’s bill seeking to ban wearing the burqa. Neither major party supporta the bill, so it is expected to fail.
A rally outside Queensland state parliament on September 14 demanded the charging of police who break the law, a full royal commission into the state’s police force and real accountability. After the rally, a delegation from the Aboriginal community met police minister Neil Roberts and discussed issues arising from the deaths in custody crisis. Below is an excerpt from the speech Murri leader and Socialist Alliance member Sam Watson gave at the rally. * * *
Black Like Me: How a White American Travelled Through the Segregated Deep South of the 1950s Disguised as a Black Man
John Howard Griffin, Souvenir Press, 2009, 241 pages, $39.99 (pb)
Review by Phil Shannon
John Howard Griffin, a white Texan, was shocked in 1959 when he saw the face in the mirror, “the face and shoulders of a stranger — a fierce, bald, very dark Negro”, glaring back at him.
In late August, Mexican authorities found the bodies of 72 migrants from Central and South America. They had been kidnapped on their way to the United States, brutally shot and left to die in a remote, abandoned ranch near a small town in northeastern Mexico. Eighteen-year-old Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla was one of two survivors of the massacre who managed to escape and lead authorities to the crime scene. He claimed he and his fellow US-bound migrants were kidnapped by the Zetas drug cartel and told they would either have to pay a ransom or work as drug couriers and hit men.
Opposition has grown to the Western Australian state government’s compulsory seizure of James Price Point, 60km north of Broome, for a $30 billion gas processing project in the Browse Basin. The Kimberly Land Council (KLC), the Greens and the Wilderness Society have all spoken out against the move. Frank Parriman, the co-chair of the KLC Traditional Owners negotiating committee, accused Woodside, the company that plans to build the project, of orchestrating the takeover.