In December 1984, the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) expelled Tamil farmers from three villages in the Ma'nalaa'ru region in the northeast of the island of Sri Lanka and seized 1500 acres of land. The land has been occupied by the SLA ever since. The displaced farmers told two Tamil National Alliance members of the Sri Lankan parliament who recently visited the area that the army still bans them from returning. They are not even allowed to look at their land.
Refugee rights activists representing groups and individuals from Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney, and the Blue Mountains met on December 3 to plan campaign activities for this year. It was the first national gathering of refugee rights campaigners since federal Labor's 2007 election, and fittingly occurred on the same weekend as the ALP's national conference. Labor further entrenched its anti-refugee policies, in particular offshore processing.
WikiLeaks has awakened many people to the cynical and violent workings of the political, military and corporate entities that run the world. For Christine Assange this awakening has been heightened because her son is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — now the target of the powerful 1% who have not appreciated his contribution to transparency. “I started off on this journey saying WikiLeaks is great in theory but … I’m not going to support it publicly before I’ve read everything I can on it,” she told Green Left Weekly. “It was quite a journey for me.”
Pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain have gone on the offensive in the face of government repression and harsh sentences for activists arrested in the first wave of protests in February and March. Large protests began on September 23 against sham by-elections for Bahrain’s toothless parliament. Most people heeded the democracy movement’s call for a boycott — only about 17% turned out to vote, FT.com said on September 25. Police blocked attempts by protesters to reach the previous epicentre of the protests — the now-demolished Pearl Roundabout, known as Martyr’s Square by protesters.
Iraqi hotel worker Baha Mousa died after violent and cowardly abuse by British soldiers, a public inquiry in Britain has found. Inquiry chairperson William Gage published his report on September 8. He described the treatment of Mousa and his fellow detainees in the Iraqi city of Basra in 2003 as "an appalling episode of serious, gratuitous violence on civilians which resulted in the death of one man and injuries to others". Mousa was detained along with a number of others by members of the 1st Battalion Queen's Lancashire Regiment after a raid on the Ibn al-Haitham hotel in Basra.
Despite widespread condemnation of Israeli policies by the United Nations, other international bodies, human rights organisations and internationally respected lawyers Israel continues to deprive Palestinians of their rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination. Israel’s ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination and aggressive expansion through colonisation are well documented. See also: Rallies say you 'can't sweeten apartheid'
“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference on August 26. Bloomberg announced a host of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene. These included shutting down the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of about 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter’s question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with more than a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground would be staying put.
In a move that will provide important savings for low-income families, the Venezuelan government unveiled a plan on August 15 to distribute 12 million new textbooks to primary school students around the country in the coming scholastic year. Education minister Maryann Hanson said: “The objective of this program is to ensure that those with less economic resources can count on having textbooks in order to guarantee education as an inalienable human right.” The new textbooks represent an investment of more than US$45 million.
Supporters of justice for former Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks rallied outside the NSW Supreme Court on August 3 to condemn moves by the Department of Public Prosecutions to seize the proceeds of Hicks’ 2010 book Guantanamo: My Journey under “proceeds of crime” laws. Speakers at the rally included Stop the War Coalition Sydney’s Pip Hinman, NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, and peace activist Donna Mulhearn.
Michael Coleman is keen to rejoin a Gaza Freedom Flotilla at any time (although his parents would say something different). The youth worker from Sydney has just returned from taking part of the international protest against Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza. Coleman narrowly avoided a jail term for trying to help a Canadian boat — the Tahrir — leave a port on the Greek island of Crete as part of the Freedom Flotilla 2. He is very proud to have been part of an international protest which has again put the spot light back on to Israel.