Eritreans around the world will mark the country’s national day on May 24. After an epic three-decades-long liberation struggle, in 1991 the liberation forces wrested control of their capital, Asmara, from the occupying Ethiopian army. Two years later, a new, independent Eritrea was formally established. But the following years have proved a bitter disappointment for the people of this small (population five million) former Italian colony on the Red Sea.
The incumbent Conservative Party sailed to victory in Canada’s federal election on May 2 with the first majority government in the federal Parliament since the 2000 election. There was celebration in the boardrooms across the country. The victory caps a decades-long drive by much of Canada’s business elite to fashion a strong national government around a hard-right agenda.
Hundreds of Australian Tamils and supporters gathered for an evening vigil in Sydney’s Martin Place on May 18 to commemorate two years since the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE had fought a 30-year-long battle for an independent Tamil homeland in the north-east of Sri Lanka. In April, a leaked United Nations report said the Sri Lankan government had committed serious war crimes as the war came to a close, which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.
The following statement was released by the Socialist Alliance in Australia. For more information, visit www.socialist-alliance.org . * * *
Palestinians have upped the stakes in their struggle for freedom and justice on the anniversary of al-Nakba (“The Castrophe”), as Palestinains refer to the ethnic cleansing that accompnied the founding of Israel in 1948). Israel responded with lethal repression.
About 6000 people rallied in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesian-occupied West Papua on May 2 demanding a referendum on independence. The demonstration also commemorated the illegal occupation of West Papua in 1963. West Papua Media Alerts reported on May 2 that West Papua National Committee (KNPB) spokesperson Victor Yeimo said: “We want to show Indonesia and the international community that we are not just a handful of people who want independence. All people of West Papua want to be free.”
A Palestinian solidarity conference held in Sydney over May 14-15 brought together more than 200 people to discuss the campaign in Australia in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The conference took place on the anniversary of al Nakba (“the catastrophe”) — as Palestinians call the day that marks their dispossession that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. See also: Sydney community discusses the 'boycott Israel' campaign
“I don’t have any blood on my hands,” Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera wrote in February. “I haven’t victimized anyone. And I’ve devoted most of my life serving a just and noble cause and struggling to help make this world a better and more just one.” For 30 years, Lopez Rivera has been imprisoned in the United States for his activities in support of freedom and independence for Puerto Rico, which is still claimed by the US.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the hunger strikes by republican prisoners in the H-Blocks of the British-run Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland. These hunger strikes, in which ten men died demanding "political" status, were preceded by hunger strikes in the last part of 1980 that ended with the British authorities promising a compromise, only to then betray the prisoners.