human rights

On April 9, the Australian Labor Party government, then led by Kevin Rudd, imposed a three-month suspension of the processing of refugees from Sri Lanka. On July 6, the Labor government of PM Julia Gillard announced, in the context of unveiling its pre-election tougher stance against refugees, that the suspension would not be extended.

Thirty one Rohingya refugees in a detention centre in Darwin ended their 12-day hunger strike on June 25. They were protesting against the Australian government’s delay in processing their asylum claims, an average of nine months after their boats’ interception.

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) released a statement on June 28 reaffirming its commitment to the Honduran people’s struggle for a return to democracy one year after the coup that overthrew president Manuel Zelaya.

ALBA is an anti-imperialist alliance founded in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela. Its members include Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.

Under Zelaya, Honduras joined ALBA, which suspended Honduras’s membership after the coup. The regime has since withdrawn from ALBA.

The Punjab government has been given three months to decide the fate of 68,000 hectares of agricultural land. The land is owned by the government and has been cultivated by tenants for more than 100 years.

The tenants have demanded land ownership rights. Despite government promises, the land has not been allotted to them.

The three months’ notice was given at the end of a huge peasants rally on June 29 at Okara. The rally was organised by the Punjab Tenants Association (AMP) on the eve of the anniversary of 10 years of the tenants’ struggle for land ownership rights.

On July 2, 100 people rallied at St Georges Terrace in response to the Western Australian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision not to lay criminal charges against the two guards involved in the death of Mr Ward.

The emergency action was called by the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee and was addressed by Marianne Mackay and Marc Newhouse from DICWC.

Some wore T-shirts that read: “What Eddie Mabo was to Native Title, let Mr Ward be to the justice system.”

More than a year after its victory over the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) continues to hold large areas of land in the predominantly Tamil north and east of Sri Lanka as “high security zones” (HSZ).

Many of the Tamil inhabitants who were evicted from these areas to create the HSZs during the decades-long war are still unable to return to their homes.

Indonesian military forces have stepped up their campaign of repression in West Papua in recent months. But leaders of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) continue to defy Indonesian demands to surrender.

The campaign for West Papuan independence has been amplified by the continuing repression and lack of improvement of living standards under the current “special autonomy” system.

An eyewitness report from West Papua Media Announcements (WPMA) posted on Pacific.scoop.co.nz on June 16 described a large military mobilisation in the mountainous Puncak Jaya region in central West Papua.

News from Thailand is alarming: hundreds of people detained for violations of the emergency decree, including children, injured people chained to their hospital beds and several assassinations of local leaders of the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement.

The country is moving deeper into an authoritarian and military regime. The elite are even considering postponing elections for six years, thus giving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the possibility of leading the country for ten years against the will of most Thai citizens.

On March 10 Veronnica Baxter, a 34-year-old Aboriginal woman from the Cunnamulla country, south-west Queensland, was arrested by Redfern police and held on remand. She dressed, appeared, and had identified as a woman for 15 years and was known by family and friends as a woman. Yet she was placed at the all-male NSW Silverwater Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre. Six days later, after a 14-hour break between checking her cell, she was found dead, hanging in her single cell.

In April, Arizona passed SB 1070, a controversial law that encourages police officers to harass residents they "reasonably suspect" to be undocumented migrants. Chuck D, from hip-hop legends Public Enemy, spoke to sports journalist, broadcaster and author Dave Zirin about SB 1070. Abridged from Zirin’s website, Edge of Sports .

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DZ: Why did you choose to record “Tear Down this Wall?”

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