civil liberties

Sergio Arriasis is the head of the office of strategic development for Vision Venezuela Television (ViVe), a government-funded channel inaugurated in 2003. Arriasis is in charge of future planning and development of its communications. Coral Wynter, a Green Left Weekly journalist based in Caracas, spoke with Arriasis about the struggle to counter the private corporate media in Venezuela, and create a radical alternative.

How is ViVe different from other TV channels?

Veteran left-wing academic and author Noam Chomsky was banned from entering Israel on May 17. Chomsky, a strong critic of Israel and US foreign policy, had been planning to give a lecture at Bir Zeit University in the Israeli occupied West Bank.

On May 18, English singer Elvis Costello announced he was cancelling two planned gigs in Israel, citing the “grave and complex" sensitivities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, Christian Science Monitor said on May 19.

Iranian cleric Dr Mansour Leghaei is being removed from Australia after being resident here for 16 years. Immigration minister Chris Evans has refused to allow Leghaei to stay, following an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Leghaei has committed no crime, incited no hatred and is the father of one of Australia's “working families” — that demographic otherwise loved by the Australian government. As he is not an Australian citizen, he is unable to challenge ASIO's security assessment.

A May 17 International Crisis Group report said there were “reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible” in the last five months of the 30 year long war against Tamil independence fighters. The report cited the intentional shelling of civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations.

We supposedly live in a free country. But do we actually have free speech in Australia?

Obviously, the situation here is completely different to an outright dictatorship. In some countries, there is no right to produce a paper like Green Left Weekly, no right to protest, and dissidents are jailed and tortured.

In Australia, we do have some real and important democratic rights. However, there are severe practical limitations on effectively exercising these rights — that is, exercising them in a way that anyone actually hears what you're saying.

Friends of Palestine WA staged Perth’s premiere production of Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children on May 15. The play attracted a full house of 200 people. Many more were turned away on the night.

The play attracted controversy after the Jewish Community Council’s attempt to prevent its performance in WA.

Two previous proposed performances at multicultural arts venue Kulcha and at the Hale School were cancelled due to a lobbying campaign by the JCC.

Brian Walters, former Liberty Victoria president, former Free Speech Victoria vice-president and Greens candidate for the state seat of Melbourne, has long been a advocate of free speech. He is the author of Slapping on the Writs: Defamation, Developers and Community Activism.

On May 8, he addressed a rally in Brunswick, Melbourne, which called on the local Barkly Square shopping centre to end its ban on community stalls.

Photographer David Hoffman had his London home visited by British police on the day of the May 6 general elections. They forcibly removed a poster from his window featuring a photo of Conservative Party leader (and now prime minister) David Cameron and the word “wanker”, the British Guardian said on May 11.

Hoffman said police threatened him with arrest and handcuffed him during the visit, claiming the poster was “offensive campaign material”. Hoffman said police “went completely over the top”, the Guardian reported.

It’s another election year and we’re witnessing another round of racist fear-mongering. Along with refugees, Muslims are in the crosshairs once again and the Liberal/National Coalition opposition is trying to grab votes by playing on people's worst instincts.

On May 6, Liberal Senator and parliamentary secretary Cory Bernardi called for a ban on the wearing of the burqa, after a case of armed robbery was committed by someone allegedly using the burqa as a disguise.

The coroner in the third inquest into the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island in 2004, Queensland deputy chief magistrate Brian Hine, has handed down an “open finding”. This means no criminal charges will be laid against senior sergeant Chris Hurley.

Delivering his report on May 14, Hine cited the unreliability of witnesses, who changed their stories many times throughout the various investigations and inquiries, as the reason for his inability to make a definitive finding. But he also said there was evidence of collusion by police officers to protect Hurley.

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