human rights

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.

The following speech was delivered by Jeff McMullen to a September 8 meeting in Parramatta, organised by Reconciliation for Western Sydney.

* * *

If you are out under the stars tonight, look up.

We live in a world of wonder and this is our shimmering moment in the greater scheme of things.

The Aboriginal ancestors who walked this land before us developed in their sophisticated knowledge system the concept of custodianship to keep life in balance. It is one of the keys to the strength and resilience of the world’s oldest continuous cultures.

In scenes reminiscent of the Nazi German occupation, French police rounded up almost 1000 Romani people (sometimes called Gypsies) in August and deported them to Romania and Bulgaria.

The mass deportations were foreshadowed by President Nicolas Sarkozy in July in a series of inflammatory speeches in which he accused Romani people of being in an “unacceptable situation of lawlessness” linked to “illicit trafficking, deeply unworthy living conditions and exploitation of children for begging, prostitution or crime”.

Trans-Continental Hustle
Gogol Bordello
Colombia/ DMZ

Review by Mat Ward

Gogol Bordello have always said their aim is to smuggle Roma music into mainstream Western society.

Their latest album, produced by former Beastie Boys DJ-turned-super-producer Rick Rubin, might just do that.

The US-based band, whose music combines elements of traditional Romani music with punk rock, is largely made up of Eastern European Roma immigrants who understand the long-standing persecution of their people.

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