United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on June 22 the formation of a three-member panel to advise him on whether Sri Lanka committed crimes during the last months of its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Reuters said that day.
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 June 1, part-Peruvian US actor and indigenous rights activist Q’orianka Kilcher was arrested for “disorderly conduct” after chaining herself to the White House fence while Peruvian President Alan Garcia met with US President Barack Obama. Garcia refers to the Amazonian indigenous peoples of his country as barbaric savages. Kilcher had doused her body in black paint, symbolic of the oil killing the Amazon and its people.
Right-wing candidate Juan Manuel Santos won the second round of the Colombian presidential elections on June 20. This re-affirms Colombia’s position as the US’s chief proxy in the region, playing a similar role to that of Israel in the Middle East. Santos won 69% of the run-off election against Green Party presidential candidate and former Bogota mayor Antanas Mockus. However, IPS said on June 21 that, with just 45% of registered voters taking part in the poll, Santos won with a mere 30% of potential votes.
A major split over the US blockade of Cuba has emerged between domestic “dissidents” in Cuba and their former partners in Miami. The US corporate media is paying attention to what appears to be a new anti-Cuban strategy. A letter signed by 74 of the “dissidents” on the island calls for an end to Washington’s ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba. On the other hand, most of the Cuban-American members of Congress are fiercely defending the nearly 50-year-old economic blockade in all its forms. The “new contras” are now up against the old.
On June 15, something amazing happened: British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the British army shooting Irish people. “It was wrong”, said Cameron, after a government inquiry found the British army was responsible for the killing of 14 unarmed civil rights demonstrators, seven of them teenagers, in the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry. On January 30, 1972, up to 30,000 people marched in Derry, in the six Irish counties occupied by Britain, to demand an end to internment, a policy that allowed for the jailing of people without trial.
The publication of the Saville Report, the inquiry into the British army massacre of 14 civil rights protestors in Derry in the north of Ireland in 1972, confirmed what the victims’ families had always known — that those shot had been unarmed and posed no threat to the British Parachute Regiment.
May Day in Caracas, Venezuela, was “deeply inspiring”, Adrian Evans, deputy state secretary of the WA Maritime Union of Australia, told a meeting of 40 people in Fremantle on June 16. Evans travelled to Venezuela as part of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network’s 2010 May Day brigade. “I love May Day in Fremantle”, he said. “But, I can tell you, being with one-and-a-half million workers was incredible.”
For more international union actions against Israel, see here Solidarity with the Palestinian people - three-day strike for Israel commercial vessels World Federation of Trade Unions Athens, June 8th 2010 www.wftucentral.org E-mails : email@example.com Dear colleagues, trade unionists and workers,