The Northern Territory government passed new mandatory sentencing laws on February 14 that will increase the minimum time offenders spend in prison and restrict judges’ right to suspend sentences for certain crimes. NT justice minister John Elferink told AAP on February 14: "These new mandatory minimum sentences correct the failed attempt by the former Labor government to be tough on crime."
A civil trial expected to last eight weeks in the federal court in Melbourne was averted on February 18 by an agreement between the Victoria Police and six African-Australians suing them for racial discrimination and racial profiling. The agreement mandates an enquiry, with submissions from the public, into allegations of police racism in the Flemington-North Melbourne area, which includes culturally diverse Housing Commission estates. The agreement also permits the six complainants to publicly tell their stories using police documents obtained through the court case.
Najeeba Wazefadost came to Australia as a child refugee in September 2000 by a perilous journey by boat. She is now president of Hazara Women of Australia and I interviewed her for Green Left TV at a 500-strong Hazara community demonstration in the centre of Sydney on February 20 to protest the ongoing massacres of Shia in Pakistan. See the GLTV video and photos of the protest below.
In mid 2012 the Australian government deported Sri Lankan asylum seeker Dayan Anthony back to Colombo despite the wider community, lawyers and refugee advocates mounting a compelling case to show that his claims of torture in Sri Lanka were justified. Anthony became the first Tamil deported back to Sri Lanka where it is claimed he now lives in fear and under virtual house arrest. Film by Yask Desai, submitted to Green Left TV.
Lionel Bopage, 68, was jailed twice and tortured for his roll as a former leader of a mass liberation movement in Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s, called the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People's Liberation Front). He rose to the position of general secretary of the JVP but resigned from the group in 1984 over a number of differences, including his principled support for the right of national self-determination for the Tamil people. He was eventually forced into political exile together with his wife, Chitra.
Song by David Beniuk: January 26 Video by Green Left TV
Hashim bin Rashid is the general secretary of the Lahore branch of Pakistan'sAwami Workers Party, which was recently formed by three left-wing groups uniting. Hasmim was a special guest at the Socialist Alliance national conference in Geelong 18-1-13, where the gave the talk in this video. The video is by Green Left TV.
Members of dozens of local Aboriginal Land Councils protested outside the office of the NSW Land Council on January 25. The peak body of Aboriginal affairs has been criticised for applying for exploration permits for uranium and coal seam gas in areas throughout NSW. Chairperson of the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council, Roy “Dootch” Kennedy, told Green Left Weekly they were protesting because of serious concerns about the effects of mining and the lack of consultation about the decision.
For nine long years Gail Hickey and her family have indefatigably campaigned for justice over the death of their son, TJ Hickey, an Aboriginal man who was 17 years old. He died as a consequence of a pursuit by Redfern police that ended with his death the following day. For nine long years Gail, the family and their supporters have been telling and re-telling the history. His bike was rammed by a police car, he was thrown in the air with great force, and landed on a spiked fence line with great force.
Alia Amirali is a leading left activist, general secretary of the National Student Federation (Punjab) and a member of the new united left party Awami Workers' Party who will be visiting Australia in January 2013 to be the international guest speaker at the 9th national conference of the Socialist Alliance. She is also a researcher on the Baloch National Movement and a lecturer at Quaid-e-Azam University.