democracy

In a move that took most people by surprise, Tasmanian Labor Premier David Bartlett resigned on January 23. Deputy premier Lara Giddings was sworn in the next day as the first female premier of the state. Giddings will also keep her position as Treasurer. Bartlett announced his decision with a message on his Facebook page that said: “To all my Facebook friends and contributors. I have decided to step down as premier and leader of the Labor Party.” He said his reason was that he wanted more time to be a better father to his children.
Thousands of people marched through the streets of Istanbul on January 19 to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the killing of journalist and human rights activist Hrant Dink. Dink’s murder symbolises the rising wave of nationalism and chauvinism in Turkey in recent years. Dink was an Armenian-Turkish journalist, human rights activist and a prominent member of his community. He was 51-years-old when he was murdered by a 17-year-old right-wing assassin on January 19, 2007 — gunned down outside the office of Agos, a bilingual newspaper that he edited in Istanbul.
About 40 people attended a ‘Hands off WikiLeaks’ rally held in Franklin Square, Hobart on January 29. Speakers from the Greens, the Socialist Alliance, the Secular Party, Young Libertarians and unaligned individuals addressed the rally. They called on the Australian government to support Julian Assange, defend WikiLeaks and support the right to free speech and freedom of information.
“Haiti’s infamous dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, returned to his country this week, while the country's first elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is kept out”, Mark Weisbrot wrote in the January 20 Huffington Post. “These two facts really say everything about Washington’s policy toward Haiti, and our government's respect for democracy in that country and in the region.”
The trials of the creator of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and of international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles began with less than a 24-hour difference on January 10 and 11. One took place in London and the other in El Paso, Texas. While the champion of freedom of information, Assange, was being accused by US officials of the very serious crime of terrorism, the confessed terrorist, Posada, was simply tried for immigration law violations.
Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez has passed a series of laws to help people affected by floods, including big investment in new housing. Venezuelanalysis.com said on January 20: “Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez issued a law-decree on Tuesday to address ‘rights and justice’ of the roughly 125,000 Venezuelans made homeless during last year’s record-setting rains and floods.” Chavez said the “Law for Dignified Refuge” would serve to “institutionalise” the concept of a “dignified and human refuge” and establish the responsibilities of the government.
UPDATE: The media are reporting a second day of large anti-government protests. The regime has cracked down, with reports of at least 500 people arrested across the country. See also: Tunisia: People's power ousts dictator Tunisia: Arab rulers shake in fear
Welcome to another year of Green Left Weekly, a proudly independent voice committed to democratic, investigative journalism. 2010 ended on a high note as Wikileaks and Julian Assange showed what true journalism is: exposing the abuses of power that hide behind the veil of government secrecy. Assange was demonised by much of the mainstream media as a “criminal” and a “terrorist”, but the US and other governments could not defend their real crimes, which were exposed by the Wikileaks cables.
Resistance members joined a protest march through Sydney on January 15 in support of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. Rally goers chanted "Down with hypocrisy, we want democracy" and "Wikileaks is here to stay, we'll defend it all the way" as they marched from Town Hall to Hyde Park. Resistance member and Socialist Alliance NSW Legislative Council candidate Patrick Harrison said: "Wikileaks must be defended, governments can't be allowed to get away with lies — the people of the world need the truth."

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