human rights

“Nothing! Nothing! We’ve seen nothing!”, chanted a crowd of internally displaced people (IDP) on October 6. They were pursuing former US president Bill Clinton from his photo-op in their squalid camp on his way to the third Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) meeting in downtown Port-au-Prince.

The crowd protesting against Clinton was from an IDP camp on the golf-course of the former Petionville Club, a bourgeois enclave created by US Marines when they first occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934.

Venezuela’s representative in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Alfredo Missair, spoke on October 18 about Venezuela’s achievements in the field. He said that 14 million citizens (about half of the population) now have access to food at fair prices.

On the TV show Desperto Venezuela, broadcast by VTV, Missair stressed the country is on track to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals of halving the proportion of the population that is undernourished.

Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett has said many of the 200 remote Aboriginal communities in WA will be shut down.

ABC Online reported on October 14 that Barnett said: "There's no doubt that under policies really initiated by the Federal Government, small, isolated Aboriginal communities were promoted.

"The reality is that there's no employment prospects in those areas, or very limited."

Barnett’s comments were in relation to the small community of Oombulgurri, where there are 50 residents and 14 public servants.

There are many myths around the issue of asylum seekers in Australia. Yet, when you look at the facts, it’s obvious that asylum seekers aren’t a problem. The problem is Australia’s punitive policies, including mandatory detention of asylum seekers arriving by boat, which contravene international law.

Lack of transparency ensures that human rights are abused daily in Australia’s detention centres, creating many mental health problems for people who are already traumatised.

The policy of mandatory detention will cost the taxpayers more than $1 billion dollars over the next four years.

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.

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.”

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