human rights

Immigration minister Chris Bowen visited East Timor on October 11 to push Australia’s offshore detention centre plan.

He also visited Indonesia and Malaysia over October 12-14. Bowen’s purpose was to enforce “strong cooperation with regional neighbours” on Australia’s border control.

He said he wanted East Timor to “play a role” by allowing the Australian government to build a refugee detention centre there.

In December 2009, a Bulgarian court convicted 23-year-old Australian Jock Palfreeman of the murder of 20-year-old Bulgarian man Andrey Monov, who died of a knife wound. Palfreeman was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

This resulted from an incident in December 2007 in which Palfreeman, according to his own account, came to the aid of two men of the minority Roma community who were being attacked by a gang of 16 men.

Palfreeman was denied bail and spent nearly two years in jail before finally being sentenced.

Popular Thai newspaper Prachatai has reported that, a woman was arrested on October 3 at a freedom bike ride by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship supporters (popularly known as the Red Shirts) in Ayutthaya for selling slippers with Thailand’s military-installed Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s face on them.

The slippers were printed with the message, “People died at Ratchaprasong” — referring to the May 19 military massacre against the Red Shirts’ mass protest camp in Bangkok.

The Greens and the Australian Labor Party signed an agreement on September 1 to form a minority government on certain conditions, one of which was support for amendments to the constitution to recognise Aboriginal people. The government has agreed to hold a referendum on the issue.

The proposal has sparked debate among Aboriginal activists about its usefulness for the Aboriginal rights struggle.

Palestinian activists in the occupied West Bank have called for the boycott of the popular Rami Levy Israeli supermarket chain. The chain has several stores inside Israel’s illegal settlements.

Activists say they will call on fellow Palestinians to “avoid supporting the occupation and settlements’ economy by boycotting Israeli goods and settlement stores”.

A vigil was held on September 23 outside the Rami Levy store inside the Sha’ar Binyamin settlement south of Bethlehem.

Voluntary euthanasia is back in the political spotlight. The Greens have used their stronger position in the new parliament to raise the issue of people’s right to choose how and when they die.

A 1995 Ray Morgan research poll said 78% of people supported voluntary euthanasia being made legal in Australia. In 2009, a Newspoll survey said 85% of Australians supported voluntary euthanasia laws.

On May 31, Australian activists Ahmed Talib and Jerry Campbell were on board the Mavi Marmara, in international waters, en route to Gaza to deliver much needed aid to its besieged residents. Israeli commandos attacked the ship and shot dead nine solidarity activists. Talib was one of several activists shot and wounded. He and Campbell described the attack at a September 22 forum sponsored by Justice For Palestine.

Talib said: “The Israeli siege of Gaza had continued for three years, with world governments and international organisations not really doing anything against it.”

On September 10, the commercial television regulator, Commercials Advice (CAD) withdrew approval for the screening of a pro-euthanasia ad by Exit International on September 12.

Exit International condemned the decision as an attack on free speech. According to its website, Exit International is ”a leading end-of-life choices (voluntary euthanasia/ assisted suicide) information and advocacy organisation”.

Activists from campaign group Sydney Says No 2 Honduran Coup gathered on September 15 to mark Honduran Independence Day, 14 months after elected president Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped and flown out of the country in a military coup on June 28, 2009.

Although in exile, Zelaya continues to campaign against the coup regime. Inside Honduras, the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) campaigns against the illegitimate government of Porfirio Lobo.
Below is an abridged version of a speech given by Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon at the Sydney action.

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For five centuries, Africa has suffered at the hands of the West. Starting with the slave trade, through the colonial era, to today’s neoliberal global economy, the development of industrial capitalism in the West has come at a terrible price paid by Africans.

Food riots in Mozambique early this month and looming mass starvation in Niger after floods that were preceded by years of drought both reflect the ongoing economic exploitation.

However, they also reflect another creation of the industrialised West adversely affecting Africa: climate change.

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