democracy

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.
Ongoing mass demonstrations, strikes and riots have rocked Egypt since January 25. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in national protests on January 25 to demand an end to the United States-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. The regime has responded with brutality. By January 30, the media had reported at least 100 people had been killed. The regime has responded to the unrest by shutting down the internet — a key organising tool of the protests — across the country.
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
The flood disaster that struck three-quarters of Queensland over the past month and then spread to Victoria and Tasmania is the worst overall flood catastrophe in recorded Australian history. It has also inspired a massive outpouring of public sympathy and solidarity. The disaster has shown in practice the huge potential for ordinary people to mobilise in support of fellow human beings in need of help. Tens of thousands of Brisbane residents volunteered to help people whose homes had been flooded by the raging Brisbane River, especially over the weekend of January 15-16.
The significance of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks can be measured by the hysterical and panicked response of the powerful to it. Wikileaks’ ongoing release of thousands of secret US government cables and other secret documents is being met with outrage, assassination threats, censorship, a corporate boycott and legal action. Much of this has centred on Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange. The allegations of sex crimes (for which no charges have yet been laid) have been used to hound him through the courts.

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