Thursday, 30 April 2009

Stop the War Coalition on Rudd's Troops to Afghanistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sydney Stop the War Coalition

April 30, 2009

Peace coalition condemns Rudd's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan

The Sydney Stop the War Coalition today condemned the Rudd government for its decision to send 450 more troops to Afghanistan. Some 21,000 US troops are being sent for a troop "surge" in Afghanistan. NATO has agreed to send at least 5000 more, and now Australia, already the biggest non-NATO contributor of troops to Afghanistan, is following suit even though Australians are overwhelmingly against the Rudd government's decision to send more troops.

"The Rudd Labor government's decision to send more troops, despite the fact that a March poll showed that two thirds of Australians do not agree matches the arrogant dismissal of the democratic will of the people by the previous Howard Coalition government," said Pip Hinman from the Stop the War Coalition.

"PM Kevin Rudd's argument is that Australia has to send its troops to train Afghan troops to defend the Afghan people from the Taliban. But since this war of Western occupation began in October 2001, the Afghan people have not been liberated. Corruption is rife, opium production and distribution has flourished, and key social indicators, including employment, life expectancy, literacy and malnutrition have worsened. Women have not being liberated and the hated Taliban has gained in strength.

"In 2008, more than 2100 Afghan civilians were killed - an increase of 40% on the previous year according to the UN Mission in Afghanistan. The 2008 civilian death toll was the highest of any year since 2001, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This will only worsen as more foreign troops are sent.

"Canberra spends some $575 million per year on this war and occupation, money that would be better spent on helping reconstruct this devastated country, or on essential services here", concluded Ms Hinman.

The Sydney Stop the War Coalition says that all foreign troops should leave so that the people of Afghanistan have a chance to rebuild their country.

PROTEST: 5-6.30pm Friday May 8
Town Hall Square, Sydney
Organised by Stop the War Coalition www.stopwarcoalition.org
Information: Pip Hinman 0412 139 968 or Rob Kennedy 0411 449 033

Brisbane protest for Tamils


ASSEMBLE FRIDAY 5.15PM FOR 5.30PM MARCH, STATE PARLIAMENT (George St, City)
All those who stand for basic justice and equality are urged to
join and support Brisbane's Tamil community as they march this Friday as part a global campaign to STOP THE RACIST GENOCIDAL SLAUGHTER OF THE TAMIL PEOPLE IN SRI LANKA

Rwanda, Sudan, and now Sri Lanka - again the world stands still in the face of genocide. Never again!

MARCH COMMENCES 5.30PM STATE PARLIAMENT, George St, City (outside QUT Gardens Point)

Please read the international appeal below.

Also see http://www.tamilnet.com/
SLA fired 5,600 shells within 15 hours
Unprecedented carnage unfolds in Vanni
US, UN & International Community facilitate genocide

April 24, 2009, Sri Lanka
An appeal to the international civil society to act immediately to prevent further destruction in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is in a dire situation that begs for the attention of the world community focused on it and for urgent action immediately followed to avoid further destruction.

Sri Lanka government backed by the Sinhala supremacist oppressors, has almost crushed the struggle of the Tamils for their rights, in order to retain the structure the Lankan state as a Sinhala chauvinist regime. For as much as a half a century, the Sinhala supremacist governments have repeatedly avoided granting the political rights of the national minorities within the post-colonial state structure. Instead, they pushed the Tamil minority to the wall through repeated pogroms and terror actions to repress latter's non-violent struggles to win their rights. Eventually this caused the upsurge of a ferocious armed struggle.

The government of Lanka manipulates the conceptual definition of

terrorism to legitimize repression of minority rights and to muster support of the global powers to crush the struggles for rights. In 2008, the government unilaterally revoked the cease fire and moved away from the peace process brokered under the patronage of the Co-chairs of the donor-community. In the process of total annihilation of the struggle of the Tamils for their democratic rights, the government banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and declared war against Tamil radicalism. The media access to the conflict zone was effectively blocked and later the government, ordered the humanitarian organizations as well to evacuate their offices, and expelled the international staff. At the peak of the siege, the state ordered the government health staff too to vacate the hospitals. All these measures were taken while carrying on a massive military onslaught via land, sea and air targeting the traditional dwellings of the Tamil people in Northern Province of Lanka.

People were uprooted from their dwellings and made internally displaced in multiple times.

Their houses were shelled and bombed, cultivations and other property were devastated and the entire environmental topography was demolished beyond repair. At the culmination of this military onslaught, the state urged the people to move into a government-designated no-fire zone in a small patch of land in an area where basic amenities were so scarce for such a massive population.

Later, the government repeatedly shelled and carpet bombed parts of the no-fire zone too in the guise of hunting terrorists. Now they have advanced into the no-fire zone naming the operation a 'hostage rescue mission' killing and miming thousands of civilians.

There are allegations that the government is using chemical weapons as well against the Tamil Tiger rebels disregarding the impact on the civilians huddled in the small area.

This warfare is totally against the accepted norms of war and the international law. Sri Lanka government denies these charges stating that the allegations are mere propaganda of the Tamil Tigers. Independent verification is impossible since free media and humanitarian organizations sans ICRC are blocked entry into the conflict zone.

The government has detained thousands of internally displaced civilians in heavily guarded concentration-styled camps in an environment of thoroughly restricted mobility. They call these places as 'welfare centers'. Even the UN agency staff members that have moved out of the no-fire zone are held in these camps in the guise of screening terrorists.

Several months back, the government submitted a proposal to embassies in Colombo seeking financial assistance to set up semi-permanent camps for 200,000 civilians for three years.

Thus this is not the first time. The government, in the recent past, during operations in the east, retained an area named Sampur in the Eastern Province without allowing the residents to resettle. Now the discussions are underway to set up a coal power plant in the lands of those residents without compensating them. Thus, there is a racially-oriented ploy to change the demography behind the devastation of the traditional lands of Tamils while holding them for a long period in concentration camps.

-We, representing the civil society of the island, extend our deepest regrets over the inaction and the silent approval given to Lankan regime by the international good governance systems like UN amidst these unfathomed crimes of Lankan rulers and their allies.

-We urge the international community, especially the international civil society not to allow Sri Lankan government, to manipulate the so-called fight against terrorism to win support of the UN and other authorities, and to continue with chauvinist state terrorism on the minority Tamil community.

-International community should urge authorities like UN and the donor forum of Sri Lanka to compel the government to stop war immediately and begin an internationally monitored peace process aimed at a sustainable solution to the dragging national problem of the country.

-The right of people to their traditional villages should be defended. Compensation should be paid for the damages done to their life and property and help must be given to reconstruct their lives.

-Immediately unblock the access of the media and the humanitarian organizations into the areas of the internally displaced and war affected people live, and guarantee their freedom of expression.

Signed by,

Dr. Vickramabahu Karunarathne

Prof. Sucharitha Gamlath

Prof. Jayantha Senewirathne

Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri

Dr. Terence Purasinghe

Chandrapala Kumarage (attorney at Law)

Servant Yohan Devananda

Patrick Fernando

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

An important petition - CPRS and Climate Change

To all members of climate, environmental and social justice groups, and concerned individuals,

Attached is a document that we would like your group to sign, or you may wish to sign it as an individual member of the public. It is asking the Greens Senators to vote No to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) when it goes before Parliament in the next few months, and it also asks them not to vote through any amended form of the bill. We believe that the scheme is incapable of being “greened up” and must be rejected outright.

CLEAN ( the Climate Emergency Action Network) in South Australia has initiated this petition, and is collecting the signatures by email. We will put all signatories up on our website (www.cleansa.org.au) as soon as they arrive, and then we will present the final package to the Greens Senators well before the Parliamentary vote.

Some supports of action against global warming may well ask if it is it really necessary to lobby the Greens Senators on this issue. Surely they will oppose the CPRS in any conceivable form.

This is not necessarily so. There has been significant debate within the party on the issue, and their media release immediately after their National Council in Perth in late March (http://greensmps.org.au/content/media-release/greens-national-council-calls-cprs-rethink) does not call for a clear and outright rejection of the scheme.

In this context the climate movement and all concerned individuals must send a clear message to the Greens senators that we will support them in voting down this retrograde scheme, which would commit us to climate suicide.

Please send emails indicating your support for this statement to cleansa@yahoo.com.au or hard copy signatures to Unit 1/103 Sturt Street, Adelaide SA 5000.

For further information contact Stephen Darley on 08 82425121 or the Victorian Climate Emergency Network at convenor@climateemergencynetwork.org

Yours in the struggle for a safe planet,

Stephen Darley

Climate Emergency Action Network South Australia

Victorian Climate Emergency Network

_____________________________________________________

THE PETITION

A CALL TO AUSTRALIAN GREENS SENATORS

Reject the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

To: Australian Greens Senators (Bob Brown, Christine Milne, Scott Ludlam, Rachel Siewert, Sarah Hanson-Young)

We, the undersigned, support strong action on global warming. We were greatly encouraged when the recent Climate Action Summit 2009 in Canberra—which involved many Greens members and MPs—adopted goals and plans for such action.

We support the strong position taken by the Australian Greens Senators against the appeasement of the fossil fuel lobby.

We reject the Rudd government’s proposed Carbon Pollution “Reduction” Scheme and support the goal, adopted by the Climate Action Summit, of stopping the CPRS from becoming law. We agree with the Greens’ assessment that the CPRS is “worse than useless” and “would actively prevent the change we desperately need”.

In particular the CPRS:

  • Fails to set targets based on climate science. Its maximum 15% goal, if repeated by other countries, will encourage levels of greenhouse pollution that will be catastrophic for most people and most species.

  • Does not cover all significant sectors of greenhouse gas emissions, omitting agriculture and deforestation.

  • Rewards the biggest polluters and sabotages the efforts of ordinary consumers to reduce their “carbon footprint” by making their emissions savings available as extra polluting credits for the big carbon emitters.

  • Opens the way for even more compensation to the big polluters by defining their pollution credits as a property right.

  • Undermines many of the programs and policies already implemented at a state and local government level.

  • Does not include effective border controls to prevent the exporting of carbon-polluting industries and would allow Australia—the developed world’s highest per capita polluter—to import an unlimited amount of offshore permits to maintain current emission levels.

The CPRS is already undermining momentum towards the December 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen adopting adequate greenhouse gas reduction targets. It is so poorly conceived that it could allow Australia's domestic emissions in 2050 to be as high as they are today!

Nothing by way of proposed amendments of which we are aware would make the CPRS a step forward in the fight against global warming. In particular, proposals to increase the “upper end” target to 25 per cent while making only much lower targets (like 5 per cent) compulsory are a hypocritical attempt to appear to confront the climate emergency while appeasing the big carbon polluters.

W e cannot support poorly-designed proposals like the CPRS that fail to promote a deep and rapid reduction in carbon emissions. The overwhelming, non-negotiable need is for committed leadership and action to save our planet’s environment and its people.

In the knowledge that many Australians and community climate action groups are standing with you, we urge Greens Senators—along with your positive initiatives like the campaign for effective gross feed-in tariffs for renewable energy—to maintain a strong and principled opposition to the CPRS.

NAME

SIGNATURE

ADDRESS

EMAIL

Return to: cleansa@yahoo.com.au or to Climate Emergency Action Network South Australia, Unit 1/103 Sturt Street, Adelaide SA 5000. For further information contact: Stephen Darley 08 82425121

--

Monday, 27 April 2009

Federal Court upholds Australian Government support of torture

CANTERBURY- BANKSTOWN PEACE GROUP
MEDIA RELEASE April 26, 2009

Federal Court upholds Australian Government support of torture

The Federal Court has dismissed Mamdouh Habib's appeal against the decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) decision not to return his passport.

The former Howard Government withdrew Habib's passport after his release from Guantanamo Bay. The reason given was that he might commit some illegal act if allowed to leave the country. The basis of this assertion was "secret" because of "national security" issues.

In a very controversial case, the AAT supported the Government position.

"Never mind that more than 80% of evidence was not presented in open court," Raul Bassi from the Canterbury Bankstown Peace Group commented. "Habib and his lawyer received hundred of documents mostly blacked out for national security reasons."

"The most dreadful part of the Tribunal ruling was that even the presiding magistrate accepted that Mamdouh was tortured. Yet whatever he said under torture was accepted by the Tribunal as evidence against him. On this basis the AAT denied Mahdouh his passport."

Bassi continued: "With the election of the Rudd Government, Habib was hopeful that the approach to his case would change. But in relation to human rights, as with Aboriginal issues, the war in Afghanistan and the anti-terrorist laws, there is a line of continuity between the old and new governments.

"Yesterday's ruling confirms that. The same lawyer who represented the Howard government in the first case represented the Rudd government in the appeal, and with the same arguments.

Bassi added that there was no doubt about the existence of torture by the military and security agencies of the United States and its allies. "The Obama administration has accepted that the US has been using torture as a common procedure supported by the highest authorities in the country at the time. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Federal Police originally denied any knowledge, but lately its has come to light that their agents saw Mamdouh Habib in Guantanamo Bay clearly in distress and that he told them that he had been tortured."

"The question now is what Mamdouh can do to achieve justice. All judicial avenues seem closed and appeals to the government have fall on deaf ears,. The Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group wrote to the Attorney-General last year asking for an inquiry but he refused to do anything about the case."

Bassi concluded: "The Canterbury-Bankstow n Peace Group is committed to supporting its member, Mamdouh Habib in his quest for justice. We are organising different actions to take his case to Canberra, into the international arena, and to let everyone know what the Australian government is capable of.

We initiated the campaign to bring Mamdouh and David Hicks back from Guantanamo Bay. We could never have guessed that he was coming back to a country where his rights would be almost as restricted as when he was in prison."

For more information: Raul Bassi 0403037376

Saturday, 25 April 2009

May 1 - Rally Against Prison Privatisation!

Tell Robbo "No means No" on prison privatisation!

A rally will be held next Friday, May 1, outside ALP HQ, 377 Sussex Street, 10am to show support for those opposing privatisation of our Prisons and other Public Services and Utilities (see flyer below).

The rally will coincide with the meeting of the ALP Administrative Committee. At this meeting, corrective services minister John Robertson will ask the Administrative Committee to accept that privatisation of Prisons is consistent with the ALP Policy of opposing Privatisation of Prisons!

Download the Flier HERE (PDF)

Thursday, 23 April 2009

2009 GLW Comedy Debate with Rod Quantock

also featuring Mohammed El-Leissy, Courteney Hocking, Shiralee Hood, Matthew Kenneally, Wendy Little & Darren Parker

Saturday, May 9, 2009
7:30pm - 10:30pm
Brunswick Town Hall (cnr Sydney Road & Dawson Street, Brunswick)

Phone: 0396398622
Email: melbourne@greenleft.org.au

Come along to the annual Green Left Weekly Comedy Debate - the 'debate to end all debates', adjudicated by Melbourne's own Rod Quantock.
Join Rod and his almighty team of comedians in the ultimate political comedy battle...
From corporate bail-outs to golden handshakes and fat-cat welfare to massive CEO salaries: "That this is the Global Financial Crisis we HAD to have."

$35 solidarity / $25 waged / $12 concession
Bar and food available
BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL - LAST YEAR'S DEBATE SOLD OUT!

Fundraiser for Green Left Weekly, Australia's leading radical newspaper. In these days of growing media concentration, Green Left Weekly is a proudly independent voice committed to human and civil rights, global peace and environmental sustainability, democracy and equality.
http://www.greenleft.org.au

Statement: Stop the Genocide Against the Tamils!

The statement below was initially circulated at the World at a Crossroads conference hosted by Green Left Weekly in Sydney, April 10-12. A selection of the much larger number of names that signed on are included below. To add your name to the statement, email stuartmunckton@gmail.com

Stop the Genocide Against the Tamils!

Participants at the World at a Crossroads conference, Sydney April 10-12, recognise the genocide being carried out against the Tamil people by the murderous Sri Lankan government. The genocidal policies of the Sri Lankan government are a continuation of over six decades of systematic discrimination carried out against the Tamil population.

The drive towards genocide of the Tamils has intensified since the Sri Lankan government abrogated the peace process in January 2008 and embarked on the reconquest of the island's north through brutal war with devastating consequences for Tamils.

The last few months has been particularly brutal. More than 3500 Tamil civilians have been killed in a space of three months by the Sri Lankan state offensive. Tamils fleeing the fighting are being herded into concentration camps.

According to the former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka “A few months ago the government started registering all Tamils in Colombo on the grounds that they could be a security threat, but this could be exploited for other purposes like the Nazis in the 1930s. They’re basically going to label the whole civilian Tamil population as potential terrorists.”

Two hundred thousand Tamils are now facing starvation.

We believe people throughout the world must become more vocal against this genocide and protest governments that support the Sri Lankan government. Governments such as the United States, Israel, China, India and Pakistan have all equipped the Sri Lankan army with high technology weapons, including illegal chemical weapons and cluster munitions.

The undersigned participants call for:

- an immediate end to the Sri Lankan governments attacks on Tamils and for there to be an immediate ceasefire;
- that diplomatic, economic and cultural sanctions be applied till the Sri Lankan government agrees to an immediate ceasefire
- that all military aid and assistance from governments to the Sri Lankan government must end immediately, because the money is being used to perpetrate genocide;
- the IMF not to grant the Sri Lankan the use of $1.7 billion, as it will be used on military equipment to kill Tamil civilians;
- that governments of the worlds to recognize and give full citizenship rights to Tamil refugees who have had to flee to avoid the genocide;
- that the self determination of Tamils up to and including their right to form an independent state must be respected by the governments of the world; and
- that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam be taken off proscribed terrorist lists.

signed:
* Salim Vally — Spokesperson of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa); lecturer and senior researcher at the Education Policy Unit and the School of Education at Wits University;
* Kavita Krishnan — central committee member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) and an editor Liberation magazine; national secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association;
* Michael Lebowitz — Director of "Transformative Practice and Human Development" at the Centro Internacional Miranda, Caracas; Professor Emeritus of economics, Simon Fraser University;
* Luis Bilbao — Union of Socialist Militants (Argentina); advisor to the Hugo Chavez government in Venezuela; editor of XXI magazine;
* Reihana Mohideen — vice-chair of international department of the Power of the Masses Party (PLM — Philippinnes); chairperson of Transform Asia, a gender and labour institute in South East Asia; editor of "Socialist Dialogue magazine;
* Mericio Juvinal Dos Reis — Executive Director of the Luta Hamutuk Institute (East Timor;
* Ian Angus — Socialist Voice (Canada), co-founder of Ecosocialist International Network;
* Roger Annis — Socalist Voice (Canada),
* Ian Beeching — Vancouver Socialist Forum;
* Mike Treen — Nation director of organising, Unite union, New Zealand;
* Daphne Lawless — Socialist Worker New Zealand;
* Dr Brian Senewiratne — Singalese pro-Tamil activist;
* Tim Gooden — Secretary, Geelong and Region Trades and Labour Council;
* Jess Moore — Resistance national co-organiser;
* Dick Nichols — Socialist Alliance national co-convenor ;
* Peter Boyle — Democratic Socialist Perspective national secretary;
* Pip Hinman — Sydney Stop the War Coalition; Socialist Alliance
* Brianna Pike - DSP Sydney organiser;
* Stuart Munckton — Green Left Weekly co-editor;
* Emma Murphy — GLW co-editor;
* Peter Robson — GLW journalist;
* Tony Iltis — GLW journalist;
* Jay Fletcher — GLW journalist;
* Federico Fuentes — World at a Crossroads conference co-organiser, GLW journalist, editor of Bolivia Rising;
* Lisa MacDonald — World at a Crossroads conference co-organiser; DSP National executive;
* Terry Townsend — managing editor of Links, International Journal of Socialist Renewal
* Chris Latham — National Tertiary Education Union, Murdoch University branch organiser;
* Jamie Doughney — Senior researcher at the Work and Economic Policy Research Unit, Victoria University of Technology;
* John Robb — Nelson, NZ;
* Janet Solomon — Ecum Secum, N.S. Canada;
* Simon Ashworth Wood — Socialist Alliance, Sydney;
* Joycey Berry — USA

Veterans Group reflects on brutality of war and question how politicians use our armed forces on ANZAC Day

Press release

23 April 2009

The Australian-based veterans group Stand Fast, comprised of veterans and former military personnel who oppose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, today called on people to reject blind patriotism and flag waving this ANZAC Day. Stand Fast has called for reflection on the brutality of war and for people to question if Australia’s current wars are really in the interest of the people of Australia.

In Brisbane Stand Fast spokesperson and East Timor veteran, Hamish Chitts said the group thinks the increasing spectacle of flag waving and cheering on ANZAC Day departs from its origins as a sombre day of remembrance. The group is concerned that this trend stops people openly questioning these wars amid fears that they will be accused of being ‘unpatriotic’ or not supporting the troops.

Vietnam veteran and Sydney based Stand Fast member Gerry Binder said, “The original idea was to remember the brutality that war is so that we would never let it happen again, not marching up and down with bands and people waving and shouting and cheering.” He said, “I’ve marched in Anzac Day marches and I was horrified that people are bringing their kids to cheer, to clap. I don’t want to be congratulated; I want them to understand that this must not be repeated.”

In Melbourne former army Major Chip Henriss, a Bouganville and East Timor veteran said, “I march on ANZAC Day every year but along with my medals I wear a button that says "War is Terror". For us in Australia it's been about mainly young people that have gone off time after time on what we believed was a just crusade only to return wounded physically and mentally. Yes I love the mates I served with and many of whom continue to serve but it doesn't mean I can't see these wars for what they are.”

According to Chitts Stand Fast believes that “to claim these wars bring democracy and that they are in our best interests are ridiculous. Stand Fast believes politicians are looking after the interests of big business and dressing it up to look like the people of Afghanistan or Iraq have the capability and desire to attack Australia”.

Former Royal Australian Navy officer Mark Rickards led over 70 vessel boardings in the Red Sea following the first Gulf War. Speaking from Hobart Rickards said, "Anzac Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to those who served, and particular who died, in wars which were fought in defence of peace. However it is also the perfect time to stop and reflect on the growing death toll of Australian service personnel who are currently serving in unjust wars.

Chitts continued, “These members of parliament, both Labor and Coalition vie with each other to be more ‘the diggers friend’ than the other. Most have never served in the Defence Force and would be horrified if their children did. As veterans, our thoughts are with all those who have suffered from war, those still suffering physically and mentally because of war and all those still in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan. No more blood should be shed for the profiteers. Those who truly support the troops should join the call to bring all the troops home now”.


For further information contact Hamish on 0401 586 923 or email standfast.au@ gmail.com or visit www.stand-fast. webs.com

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Colin Duffy to contest Euro elections

Regular readers of the Wombat Hole would be familiar with the name of Colin Duffy, the dissident northern Irish republican accused of involvement in the recent attacks in the six counties, and who went on hunger strike to protest his innocence and ongoing detention without charge, a detention which was ruled to have been illegal.

Well, it now appears that Duffy is set to stand as an independent candidate for the European elections, on June 4-7.

According to Ciaran Cunningham, a Belfast spokesman for "an umbrella organisation representing a number of dissident republican groups",[1] Republican Network for Unity:

"Colin Duffy intends to stand as a candidate in the upcoming European elections," he said.

"He will be standing on an end-28-day-detention ticket and an anti-internment ticket. A steering committee has been set up to direct the election campaign and RNU fully endorses that committee."

Naturally the Unionist spin-cycle has gone into hyper-drive accusing Duffy and his friends of "using this election as a personal and perverted referendum on a return to terror.” Whatevs...

Duffy, 41, currently faces eight charges
in relation to the attack on the Massereene barracks in Antrim on March 7th, an attack which the Real IRA has already taken responsibility for.

While there is little (well, stuff-all, really) chance of Duffy replicating the victories of the likes of Bernadette Devlin MacAliskey or hunger-strikers Bobby Sands and Kieran Doherty,[2] and win one of the three available seats, the Belfast Telegraph probably has it right when it points out that
"the campaign would highlight the introduction of 28-day detention under the Terrorism Act and could diminish Sinn Fein’s Bairbre de Brun’s prospects of topping the poll ahead of the DUP’s Diane Dodds."

For more (if not directly related) discussion of Norn Iron and what goes on there, see the ever-engaging Organised Rage, and the finger-on-the-bleeding-pulse reportage of Splintered Sunrise, as well as the bods over at éirígí and An Phoblacht.


[1]
Apparently this includes a large number of ex-POWs and ex-members of Sinn Fein, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the IRSP.
[2] While the Representation of the People Act of 1981 banned serving prisoners from running in elections in respnse to these victories, Duffy is on remand, rather than a convicted prisoner, and is still able to run.

Sri Lanka - The Tamils need support


Green Left Weekly #791 editorial:

The Tamils need support

One of the great crimes of modern times is occurring on the island of Sri Lanka without a word of protest from governments the world over. The Tamil people are facing genocide.

Already this year, the death toll of Tamil civilians exceeds 4000. Often dozens, and in some cases hundreds, are slaughtered in a single day in Sri Lankan Army (SLA) bombings of the so-called safe zone, into which as many as 300,000 people are crowded.

Those Tamils who flee this zone are being placed into concentration camps by the SLA.

This brutal reality is almost entirely unreported, and not simply because the Sri Lankan government refuses to allow journalists access to the scene of its crime. Instead, the mainstream media is once again siding with the powerful.

When the issue is reported at all, the Sri Lankan government's propaganda is repeated the propaganda of a regime that refuses to allow a free press, with one of the world's highest rates of journalists being murdered each year.

According to Sri Lankan propaganda, the military are merely fighting "terrorism". It claims its war is merely against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an armed group fighting for an independent Tamil homeland in the island's east and north.

Yet Sri Lanka's actions prove its war is against the Tamil people as a whole.

The actions of the LTTE are a response to the decades of discrimination and violent repression meted out to the Tamil minority by a state dominated by the majority Sinhalese ethnic group. Support for armed struggle grew among Tamils in response to the violent anti-Tamil pogroms in 1983 that killed more than 3000 people.

The solution to ending the decades-long war on the island, and bringing about desperately needed peace, is to end the oppression of the Tamil people.

First, and most urgently, there must be a permanent ceasefire declared. The mass killings must be ended. Food and medical supplies must be allowed into the "safe-zone", without which aid agencies are warning of a terrible humanitarian crisis.

The Tamil people must regain their freedom of movement and the concentration camps must be closed.

Once this occurs, the conditions for a negotiated settlement to the crisis, which can resolve the issue of self-determination for the Tamil people, will exist.

However, powerful governments, in defence of powerful interests, are allowing the Tamil people to be sacrificed. In return, the powerful are manoeuvring for access to lucrative shipping routes and ports.

To avoid upsetting the racist and undemocratic regime in Colombo, that regime is allowed a free hand to implement a "final solution" to the Tamil question. Once again, the corporate elite is placing profit over human life.

People around the world who believe in social justice must raise their voices. The Tamil diaspora is desperately attempting to bring the plight of its people to the world's attention. In their hundreds of thousands, they have marched in cities around the globe.

In India, dozens of Tamils have self-immolated to bring attention to the situation. In Australia, six young Tamils went on hunger strike for almost a week. They refused food or water, with a serious risk of death, in an appeal to the Australian government to press Sri Lanka to call a permanent ceasefire.

We cannot let them stand alone. Those who believe in social justice and political parties, trade unions, churches, social movements must speak out against the atrocities occurring right now.

The powerful have abandoned the Tamil people, it must be ordinary people all over the world who use their power to force action.

When Israel levelled Gaza, millions marched in opposition. That movement must continue, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign seeking to isolate apartheid Israel is beginning to have effect. But that display of "people power" needs to be repeated on behalf of the Tamils.

International solidarity helped end apartheid in South Africa, despite Western governments siding with the regime. It helped the East Timorese win their independence, despite Western governments including Australia siding with Indonesia.

It is placing Israel on the back foot, despite the most powerful nations on Earth backing the oppressors of the Palestinian people.

Now, international solidarity must be mobilised to save the Tamil people and stop the genocide.

[Support this very urgent struggle by joining the heroic campaign of the young Australian Tamils. Visit http://www.tamilsydney.com

More here:
http://tamilsol.blogspot.com/

http://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/

Cowardly Labor caves in to racist Coalition fear-mongering on refugees

Socialist Alliance

April 21, 2009

“The Rudd government has completely blown its chance to show that its refugee policy is more humane than the Coalition’s”, Socialist Alliance spokesperson on refugee and asylum-seeker rights Jay Fletcher said today.

Fletcher was commenting on the anti-refugee hysteria manufactured by the Coalition after an explosion on board a small fishing boat packed with 47 Afghan asylum seekers and two crew killed five people and injured many more, some critically. The incident occurred on April 16 as the Australian navy was taking the vessel to the Christmas Island detention centre.

“Home affairs minister Bob Debus admits that the recent rise in the number of asylum seekers making the dangerous journey from Indonesia is due to people fleeing war-ravaged countries”, Fletcher said. “So why doesn’t the Rudd government increase the number of places available to these desperate people? Ninety percent of refugees coming to Australia have lost family members, and they genuinely need protection.”

“The racist Liberal Party immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone has got Rudd and company spooked. That’s why the prime minister sounds like a rerun of John Howard when he calls people-smugglers ‘the scum of the earth’. By blasting their lucrative trade he hopes to neutralise the Coalition and stop Australians from asking why the trade exists in the first place.”

“Yet with 16 million refugees and 51 million displaced persons in the world and a country like Australia offering a miserable 13,500 places in 2008-09, some of those fleeing death and persecution have no choice but to place themselves in the hands of people smugglers.

“Even more, many of these refugees are fleeing from wars that Australia supports—in Afghanistan the presence of Australian troops is helping create more refugees every day, so Canberra has a humanitarian responsibility to help them.

“If the Rudd government had any sense of justice or spine on this issue it would immediately announce a big increase in refugee intake and confront the racists and xenophobes and their parliamentary wing in the Coalition head-on.”

“For example, why doesn’t Bob Debus go beyond pointing out that a microscopic 379 asylum seekers have reached Australian shores over the last year and tell the nation that each year Australia admits less than one refugee for every 1000 inhabitants, whereas a comparable country like Sweden allows in 17.7 per 1000?”

Fletcher concluded: “A ‘Swedish policy’ here would see an Australian refugee and asylum-seeker intake of around 250,000 a year—the beginnings of a humane and decent approach to their suffering that this country sorely needs.”

For further comment: Jay Fletcher 0438 819 131

Raul Castro at the ALBA Summit


Cuba reaffirms vocation of solidarity with the people of the Americas
• Speech by President Raúl Castro Ruz, in the public segment of the 5th Extraordinary ALBA Summit, Cumaná, Venezuela, April 16, 2009

Compañero Chávez;

Dear Presidents and heads of delegations from sister ALBA nations;

Distinguished guests

The economic and social crisis now is global in nature and is not only limited to the financial sector. It’s a world disaster with profound structural roots. It includes a sharp fall in stock market value and productive activity; the freezing of and higher cost of credit and the economic recession in the principal powers of the First World. It is accompanied by the withdrawal of world trade and an increase in unemployment and poverty. It is affecting and will considerably damage the lives and well-being of billions of human beings. The countries of the South with be, as always, the ones that suffer the most.

These are the consequences of irresponsible practices tied to deregulation, financial speculation, and the imposition of neoliberalism. Also present is the United States’ abusive use of the privileges bestowed on them in the current international economic order which allows them to finance a culture of war and unbridled consumerism, unsustainable no matter how you look at it, by printing money without backing.

But deep down, the crisis is a foreseeable result of the capitalist system of production and distribution. The neoliberal policies of the last three decades have increased its magnitude for the worse. In the search for solutions, those who are primarily responsible end up concentrating power and wealth even further, while the poorest and most exploited assume the majority of the costs.

The response cannot be a solution negotiated behind the back of the United Nations by the Presidents of the most powerful countries.

The crisis will not be resolved with either administrative or technical measures because they are by nature structural, have systematic reach and increasingly affect the economy of the globalized and interdependent planet. The role and the functions of financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, whose disastrous policies have decisively contributed to the origin and reach of the current crisis, should be strengthened even less.

Nor does the G-20’s solution resolve the inequality, injustices, and unsustainability of the capitalist system. It is the same rhetoric of those solemn declarations by the Northern countries that they will not apply protectionist measures and that they will not allocate new aid, which does not change the foundations of the underdevelopment that condemns us.

The World Bank – which is not exactly a defender of socialist principals – already spoke about this six months ago at the previous G-20 meeting in Washington. It counted 73 protectionist actions applied by members of the G-20 itself. An increase in the Official Development Assistance has also not been visible.

Dear colleagues

The ALBA countries have the privilege of having a modest plan for integration, constructed on the foundations and principles of equality, whose very nature doesn’t allow for the practices that started this crisis. Our countries do not have the capacity, by ourselves, to structurally transform the international economic order, but we do have the power to establish new foundations and construct our own economic relations.

Our most important programs are not subject to the whims of financial speculation or the uncontrolled fluctuation of markets. The damage that we are suffering is undeniable. This is a crisis that nobody can escape from but today we have the instruments to partly counteract its effects.

In these efforts, the work that we have been carrying out in ALBA member countries and Ecuador (since November, 2008) is particularly significant; in order to create the Unique Regional Compensation Payment System (SUCRE) that will be a fundamental factor for boosting the trade and economic integration between us.

Today we can verify the advances achieved in the development of this initiative that is a first step toward the goal of having a common currency.

Cuba reaffirms the vocation of solidarity that has characterized its links with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. The crisis presents us with enormous challenges, of incalculable and unpredictable dimensions. We have no other option than to unite with each other to face it.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Australian Tamil hunger strike against genocide



12 April 2009
Three young Tamil Australians began a hunger strike on April 11 to demand that the Australian government press for a permanent ceasefire by the Sri Lankan Army. The SLA is carrying out a brutal military offensive against the Tamil people in the island's north, with more than 3000 civilians killed this year already.

Initially, the hungers strikers camped outside Kirribilli House, the residence of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Sydney, along with thousands of supporters. On April 14, Tamil protesters and supporters traveled to Canberra to protest.

One of the hunger strikers, Suthra Thanabalasingam, told Green Left Weekly that the hunger strikers have refused to eat food or drink any water since 5pm on April 11. The hunger strikers are demanding that the Australian government to use its diplomatic powers to push the Sri Lankan government:

  • To agree to an immediate ceasefire;
  • to allow food, medicine and aid into the conflict zone;
  • to allow medical and other vital services into the conflict zone; and
  • allow the Tamil People, both in the conflict zone and those indefinitely detained in concentration camps in government-held areas, to decide independently where they wish to reside

Thanabalasingam urged the Australian public to support Tamil protests and join the fight against Genocide taking place.

Today there will be protests at The Lodge in Canberra and there are more protests planned.

For more information http://fastuntoaction. wordpress.com/

Monday, 6 April 2009

Stop the job cuts in employment services – national protest April 8

Via the ASU website, and http://www.saveourjobs.com.au/ (for some good background analysis, check out this Green Left article).

Government decision on employment services likely to cause thousands of redundancies, and cuts to other community services

The ASU calls upon the minister to immediately:

  • Audit the likely impact of the decision on the employment of staff
  • Determine where the changes to employment services are likely to impact broader delivery of community services
  • Establish mechanisms to ensure that staff displaced from services which will be stripped of their contracts have preference of employment in new services.
  • Agree to provide additional funds to services that will be forced to cut other programs as a result of having employment services removed.

In the midst of a global economic crisis it is totally unacceptable for a Labor government to be restructuring its services in a way which will make thousands of staff redundant.

Not only will staff be made redundant but in addition the services that are being delivered to the most vulnerable and the increasing number of unemployed are likely to be cut.

Join the national protest - be part of the solution. Wednesday 8th April at 1pm in your capital city. Download the flyer for details. For further information about the campaign visit http://www.saveourjobs.com.au/

ACT - The Griffin Centre, 20 Genge Street, Canberra
SA - ASU Office, 5-9 Rundle St, Kent Town
QLD
- Trades and Labour Council, 16 Peel St, South Brisbane
NSW - Trades Hall Auditorium, Unions NSW, 377-383 Sussex St, Sydney
VIC - Victorian Trades Hall Council, New Council Chambers, Corner Victoria and Lygon Sts, Carlton South
WA - ASU Building, 102 East Parade, East Perth
TAS - ASU Office, 265 Macquarie Street, Hobart
FOR NON-METRO AREAS VISIT http://www.saveourjobs.com.au/