human rights

The Israeli Law Centre, Shurat HaDin, has filed a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act with the Australian Human Rights Commission against the Sydney Peace Foundation’s Stuart Rees and Sydney University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies’ Jake Lynch.

The complaint claims Rees and Lynch are supporting racist and discriminatory policies through their support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli government.

It is the first time Australia’s anti-racism laws have been used against people involved in the BDS campaign.

Julia Hocken interviewed 25-year-old Liam Flenady who is running as the Socialist Alliance candidate in the seat of Griffith, held by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

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When did you first decide to become an activist and to join Socialist Alliance?

I became politically active around 2010, so not very long ago. Prior to that I had followed political issues, and like many people pricked up my ears around election time.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said recently that the rising number of Iranian asylum seekers coming to Australia are “economic migrants”. The overall rate of asylum seekers has increased this year and Iranians have become the largest group of people arriving by boat, making up about one third of the total.

Anyone with even superficial experience with how aged people are treated would be disgusted and outraged by the standards of most nursing homes, a result of neoliberal policies in Australia.

An investigation by ABC TV’s Lateline on July 15 found many elderly people living in aged care facilities are grossly neglected. Advocacy groups have called it “a national human rights emergency”.

The issue typically gets mentioned in the media only when a spectacle is involved, like a fire in a nursing home that costs lives.

The election of the United States’ first black president was one of those moments. Most of us remember where we were when we first heard about it.

I happened to be on Palm Island, a small community off the coast of Townsville, now home to more than 3000 Aboriginal people from different corners of Queensland. "Palm" is a former black penal colony, and to get sent there you had to commit such heinous crimes as refusing to stop speaking your native tongue, or getting caught hanging around a white Queensland town.

More than 100 people attended a lively forum at Glebe Town Hall on July 9 on the topic of "Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution."

The forum was organised by RECOGNISE and the Glebe NAIDOC Committee, as part of the National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Commemoration (NAIDOC) Week celebrations.

After days of non-stop rain, blue sky peeked out for a moment in Sydney. My partner and I grabbed the lead and took our dog for a much-needed walk in the park. But we hadn't gone two blocks down the road when to our shock we saw the front door of a long-time resident of our street covered with foul anti-Semitic graffiti.

"Fuck Jews," it read, "Heil Hitler". It featured three Nazi swastikas.

We were standing there in shock — even more so when we saw other people walking past without as much as batting an eyelid.

After fleeing and risking everything to seek asylum under Australia's laws, Iranian refugees now face being singled out and persecuted once again. This time, by the Australian Labor government.

New Prime Minister Kevin Rudd labelled “a whole bunch of people” as “economic migrants” who “comport as refugees”. Foreign affairs minister Bob Carr said boat arrivals are “increasingly not people fleeing persecution” because they are from “majority religious and ethnic groups”.

Shock facts on Aboriginal people and Australian prisons:

* The proportion of Indigenous prisoners has almost doubled in the 20 years since the Royal Commission.

* In 2011, Aboriginal people made up 2.5% of the Australian population. They accounted for 46.2% of all youth in juvenile custody and 26.1% of total adult prison population.

* In the NT, Aboriginal people made up 30.3% of the total population, 96.9% of the juvenile detention population and 82.3 % of the adult prison population.

I was browsing the “Recognise” site recently – the hip, new rebranded “You Me Unity” organisation tasked with promoting constitutional recognition of First Nations Australians – when I came across this curious fact: “Research by Auspoll in late 2012 found strong Indigenous support for constitutional recognition.

“Three-quarters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people surveyed were in favour of recognition, and only 8% opposed it. The same overwhelming majority felt recognition would help protect against a loss of culture for future generations.”

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