human rights

In November 2008, Palm Island man Lex Wotton was convicted of "incitement to riot” and sentenced to six years' jail. His charge followed the Aboriginal community uprising and protest after the death in police custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee in November 2004.

The people of Honduras are continuing their struggle for democracy more than one year after the June 28 military coup that overthrew elected President Manuel Zelaya.

The dictatorship tried to legitimise itself with fraudulent elections that brought President Profiro Lobo Sosa to power. The United States government, which was complicit in the coup, recognised the results despite almost no other government doing so. The US has since fully restored military assistance.

Five hundred people rallied outside the Perth Supreme Court Gardens on July 11 to demand that the coronial investigation into Mr Ward's tragic death be reopened.

Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder, was literally cooked to death in the back of a prisoner van while being driven from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face court for a traffic offence in January 2008.

The coroner found that temperatures inside the van reached 47° Celsius and that metal surfaces in the van would have reached 56°C.

Peoplequake: Mass Migration, Ageing Nations & the Coming Population Crash
By Fred Pearce
Corgi Books, 2010, 352 pages

Review by Martin Empson

In the 200 years since the Reverend Thomas Malthus first penned his tract, An Essay on the Principle of Population, the question of the “carrying capacity” of the planet has repeatedly appeared.

Most recently, mainstream debates around how to solve the question of climate change have boiled down to the simplistic argument that “there are too many people”.

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.

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