Tuesday, 25 May 2010

AVSN replies to SBS's anti-Chavez propaganda

“Power politics”: A reply to SBS TV’s political propaganda

The Dateline program “Power politics”, aired on SBS TV on May 23, 2010 (and on SBS2 on May 24) was one of the most blatantly biased reports on Venezuelan politics yet to be aired on Australian TV. The anti-Bolivarian line unashamedly pushed by reporter David O'Shea mirrors (in fact was shaped by) the most right-wing of Venezuela’s opposition parties.

O’Shea’s key spokesperson for the supposedly widespread public disgruntlement with President Chavez and his government was Aixa Lopez. Lopez is presented as an ordinary citizen/mother of an asthmatic daughter/lawyer turned activist who set up the "Association of Victims of the Blackouts" out of fear for her child’s safety. What O’Shea fails to mention is that Lopez is also a long-term, committed activist for the political right, including holding the position of Women’s Secretary in the conservative Accion Democratica (Democratic Action - AD) party.

Almost everyone interviewed by O’Shea are middle-class professionals with axes to grind, and he gives them free, uncritical rein. Their vague but vehement claims that the Chavez government silences dissent are ridiculous in a country where there is greater freedom of movement, speech and assembly than even in Australia.

In this regard, O’Shea’s apparent refusal to absorb the significance of some of his own script is stunning. For example, just seconds after footage showing government critics freely demonstrating outside the ombudsman's office, anti-Chavez leader Vladimir Villegas is presented accusing the Chavez government of “shutting down critics, restricting debate, trying to impose a political view that monopolises society and preventing dissidents from expressing their views, especially internally”.

Just minutes after O’Shea reports that Venezuela’s government has recently armed 30,000 farmers and other ordinary people in national defence militias, Chavez is described as an “egotistical, militaristic totalitarian”.

It doesn’t make sense. If Chavez is such a totalitarian, why would all members of Venezuela’s armed forces be required to pledge not harm their fellow citizens? Why would Chavez have led the radical reform of Venezuela’s military to include social and community work as part of military life?

What does make sense is that, in the face of coup threats and plots, the alarming militarisation of surrounding countries by the United States, and Western TV stations like SBS actively promoting “regime change” in his country, Chavez wants an armed population.

Before Chavez was elected in 1998, Venezuela was ruled by only two parties: Democratic Action (AD) and Copei, the Christian Democrats. By contrast, the September 26th, 2010, national assembly elections will be contested by around 10 major parties, as well as dozens of smaller parties. This is hardly a state that does not allow dissent.

In fact, this Dateline program is very like the many aired daily in Venezuela by the opposition, who own the licences for all but one state-owned and one community TV broadcasting frequency. Again, hardly evidence of a state that does not allow dissent.

For a program supposedly focused on a basic service – electricity – it is remarkable that there was no mention of the many infrastructure projects the Chavez government has successfully undertaken: a huge expansion of public housing, schools, universities, hospitals and health clinics. Compared to 1998, more than 4 million more Venezuelans now have access to clean drinking water, and more than 5 million more Venezuelans now have access to sanitation.

It is even more remarkable that, having mocked the Chavez government’s public education campaign to reduce energy consumption, Dateline did not even mention the more significant attempts of the government and workers in the electricity sector to address the energy crisis. There was no mention, for example, of the two-day presidential consultation with the rank-and-file electricity workers in April, or the May 15 handover of control of various primary production plants to the workers.

Setting aside the absurdity of implying that President Chavez is somehow responsible for the current drought in Venezuela, or that low-energy light bulbs are evil tools of communist dictatorships, it in evident in every election result since Chavez first came to power that the poor of Venezuela know they would be the last to get any electricity had this happened before Chavez was elected.

And that is the nub of it: it is not Chavez the individual that fills the opposition with fear and loathing as much as the poor majority - the millions of Chavistas who are determined not to let themselves be driven back into an underclass of excluded and oppressed people. Despite undeniable obstacles and problems, in Venezuela a large proportion of people are starting to play an active role in their shaping their society, organising collectively to overcome their problems through mass movements, social missions, communal councils, community media and so on.

Rather than providing a well-researched, credible investigation of the social, economic and political situation in Venezuela, this Dateline program appeared, as one viewer’s comment on SBS’s website put it, to be little more than “an English version of the election launch for the Democratic Action (AD) Party … AD ruled Venezuela badly for 40 years. AD chose to boycott the last elections - their mistake. But now they are running for office with Dateline's help!”

We suggest that SBS endeavour to repair some of the damage to its reputation by commissioning another Dateline report that strives honestly to document the views of some of the majority of Venezuelans, who have repeatedly re-elected Chavez with increasing majorities each time, and who support his efforts to put such vital resources as electricity and the media under their/public control.

As another viewer commented on the SBS website: “For those who have missed out on dreams of a gravy boat ride or a green ticket to the US I imagine that Chavez would be hard to swallow. For the people of the world who support … equality across all economic groups, Chavez is a hero. Chavez supports the poor, obviously the rich are going to cry, they will have to share. Viva Chavez!”

Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network


May 25, 2010

Thursday, 20 May 2010

May 22: Socialist Alliance NSW State Conference & Election Launch

Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism!

Saturday May 22, 11am -5pm Redfern Community Centre, 29-53 Hugo Street, Redfern.

Socialist Alliance members and supporters from Wollongong, Newcastle, Blue Mountains, Dubbo, Northern Rivers, Armidale, Sydney and Sydney West will gather to launch the Alliance's Federal Election campaign, and plan the Alliance's work in NSW. All-in sessions plus workshops on topics including Aboriginal and refugee rights; climate change action; union struggles; queer & womens rights + much more. All welcome.

Donation entry for the day $10/5.
Ph Paul 9690 1977, 0410 629 088.

Draft agenda:

11::00-11:15am Aboriginal community welcome

11:15am-12:15pm Opening panel: A socialist vision for the Federal Elections
Featuring Socialist Alliance NSW based election candidates Rachel Evans & Soubi Iskander (NSW Senate), Jess Moore (Cunningham), Zane Alcorn (Newcastle), Duncan Roden (Parramatta) & Pip Hinman (Grayndler) outlining a grassroots vision that puts people and the planet ahead of profit.

12:15-1:45 Educational & Campaign workshops
* Climate Action campaigning - the issue of our age
* Sexism & queerphobia under capitalism – our fightback
* Origins of racism & our campaigns for Aboriginal & refugee rights
* International Solidarity: Supporting red shirts: from Thailand to Venezuela

1:45-2:30 Lunch

2:30-3:45 Activist skills and Campaigns workshops
* Skills for using 21st century technology for social change
* How socialists get our ideas across
* Creative socialism - visuals and design to inspire change
* Lessons for community campaigning

3:45-4 – Afternoon tea

4-440 – Workshop report backs and adoption of proposals

440-5 – Organising and building Socialist Alliance

Conference After-Party! Food, drinks, & post-conference festivities!
From 6:30pm @ 17 Holmesdale St, Marrickville

The CFMEU car-bomb hypocrisy

A former CFMEU insider writes:

So my old workplace was attacked with a car bomb last week. There are not many people in this country who can make that statement! The attack occurred in suburban Western Sydney, missing by less than an hour a community group meeting in the building.

A group of people stole a car, loaded it with canisters of petrol, smashed it through a three-metre high wrought iron gate and crashed it into the front doors of a three-storey office block. I had a look at the damage myself less than 12 hours after the attack. The picture to my eyes looked very Baghdad indeed.

Amazingly, since the attack, not one state or national political figure has come out and condemned the violence. The reason? The target was the NSW headquarters of the construction division of the CFMEU.

Imagine for a moment, if such an attack had been perpetrated on any other part of civil society. A church. An RSL. A scout hall even. Our political leaders would have been racing each other to the scene of the crime. Jostling to inspect the damage, crunch over the broken glass, comfort the staff, condemn the violence.

It would have been (mis)named as a terrorist attack. Bi-partisan condemnation would have come from all levels of government. The papers would be full of it for days.

Instead we get this ... silence.

The attack got good electronic media coverage Friday but major papers such as the so-called "paper of record" in my home town, the Sydney Morning Herald, literally ignored the attack. For the readers of the SMH and The Australian, the attack just simply never happened. Not worthy of being reported on it seems. Middle-class indolence at its most revealing.

But I am mostly angry at Kevin Rudd and our political leaders. Rudd and IR minister Julia Gillard have shown their true colours here. They are fakes. Shallow fakes. A serious attempt to terrorise and intimidate a key plank of our civil society and they are mute. Too busy seeking reflected glory from Jessica Watson, in Rudd's case. For these people, including Kristina Keneally, the puppet in NSW, condemning outrages must clearly never be about principle. This incident has demonstrated how there must always be a cynical political calculation behind every expression of sympathy or outrage. Some hollowman down in Canberra must have just done the calcs on Rudd or Gillard coming out on this and decided it didn't fit the government's "narrative." Or something. Best ignored.

Clearly our political leaders are happy to associate themselves with a disaster when politically expedient, but run a mile when its not. That's not what leadership is in my book. What a bunch of frauds.

The hypocrisy revealed in this incident is sickening. A bit of blue language on a building site and there are screaming headlines, a politicised Royal Commission (which could not find any of the corruption and organised crime in the building industry because it was only looking for it among the unions) and an industrial police with powers and an agenda that would make the Gestapo proud. But drive an improvised explosive device into a union office? Somewhere a cricket is audible in the silence.

The shocking explanation is that what happened at Lidcombe simply does not fit with the anti-CFMEU agenda of the political and media elites in this country.

The CFMEU has all sorts of problems, I should know I used to work there. But the reason a terrorist-style attack on its NSW headquarters can be ignored in this manner is because the union represents a danger to the political and media elites. Along with just a handful of other effective unions, it remains an example, an imperfect and flawed example, of ordinary people having a little bit of power in their working lives.

That's why the CFMEU is fair game.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

“Reject the names invaders gave us”

Goodooga, northwest NSW, 15 May 2010 -- Aboriginal political activist Michael Anderson said today that the second New Way Summit held over the weekend of the 8-9th May at the Sydney University was very successful.

While it was very difficult for many people to attend, the internet is very effective at getting to a large audience, Mr Anderson said.

The issue of the continuing sovereignty of Australia’s Aboriginal nations was the centre piece of the weekend’s discussions and the summit decided that Aboriginal people must assert their continuing sovereignty by identifying their territory and clan country as it was before the British invasion.

“People must reject the nominated names that the invaders gave to us and return to our original names,” Mr Anderson said.

“It is not an easy task to throw away the names and tags that have been imposed upon our peoples throughout Australia, but it is a challenge that we as Aboriginal nations face,” says Mr Anderson.

“The invader has imprisoned us within his society just with name tags that they own. By registering our children under their birth registration the oppressor gets to own our children and us,” the New Way summit was told.

“Mabo Judgment number 2 exposed Australia’s weakness to hold claim over the Aboriginal nations. This is borne out by the Chief Justice alluding to the fact that the High Court of Australia was not the appropriate judicial location for this question to be answered as it belonged to another jurisdiction.

“This means the only appropriate court is the world court and there is already a precedent in the Western Sahara case. In this judgment the International Court of Justice said that sovereignty always remains with the people,” said Michael Mr Anderson.

“The existing Australian society and parliament assert a right of claim. Trying to get them to talk to us about a New Way forward and settlement on our claim to this country on equal terms for negotiations is like asking the thief ‘did you take it’. He will always find a way to say NO, I did not,” Michael Anderson argues.

“What is the claim of ‘right’? It appears that this claim of right comes from the ‘Bible’ where Abraham was told by God that his children would go out and take the lands of others.

“This is the basis upon which the Papal Bulletins were issued to England, France, Spain and others who set sail to locate other lands and settle them for their kings and queens and thereby assert a right of claim upon settlement,” said Mr Anderson.

“In our case we have never ceded nor relinquished our sovereignty to the invaders, the British, nor have we treaties with the existing government,” Mr Anderson said.

“These issues are the ghosts that haunt this country and we must lay to rest this question.

“It is a very daunting task and I understand that people will say ‘what about the assault we are experiencing from these existing governments.

“To that I reply: How many times can a dog stand being kicked? It is time to stand up and say ‘no more’.

“Our people must have a long hard look at our current position and situation. You cannot stand on the sideline and be spectators.

“We must get into the game, and not be cowards and wait for the players of defiance to play the game and when they take some yards from the opposition you step in and take this position from which you yourselves will benefit while tacitly siding in part with the enemy in fear of a loss,” Mr Anderson said.

“There is a plan of action that the delegations will act on and these actions will be rolled out over the rest of this year.

“We are one and we must work together; if we fail, all will be lost,” Mr Anderson said.

The next New Way summit will be at the Melbourne University during the June Queen’s Birthday weekend, when the lead topic will be the British genocide of Aboriginal people and the ongoing war against Aboriginal people through assimilation and absorption. Another key topic to be discussed is the 'Treaty’.

Michael Anderson can be contacted at 02 68296355 landline, 04272 92 492 mobile, 02 68296375 fax, ngurampaa@bigpond. com.au

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Australians to vote on landmark Tamil Referendum


Australians to vote on landmark Tamil Referendum

Thousands of Australians will convene on ballot boxes across the country this weekend to express their desire for an independent Tamil homeland.

Human rights advocates and political figures have thrown their support behind the initiative organised by the Tamil Referendum Council of Australia (TRCA) and based on the Vaddukoddai Resolution (VKR), a mandate for independence drafted in Sri Lanka in 1976 by Tamil leaders that was rejected by the Government and led to full scale civil war.

“The Australian government has done nothing to educate the public regarding the repression of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The VKR referendum can help raise awareness of the situation that the Tamils have faced for decades” said Ian Rintoul, head of the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC).

Over 10,000 voters have registered to vote, with thousands more to enrol in the coming days, according to CPI Strategic spokesperson Stephen Newnhman, a consultancy firm hired by the TRCA to co-ordinate the voting process.

Polling booths will be set up in locations across NSW, Victoria and Queensland on April 17 and 18 with large numbers of voters from other states to submit postal votes.

Pip Hinman, federal election candidate for Grayndler in NSW, described the event as an opportunity to “add to the pressure on the Australian government, which is currently turning a blind eye to the ongoing repression of the Tamil people”.

“Together, we must use these polls to push the Rudd government to break completely from the former Howard government's racist refugee policy in which Tamils (and others) are being denied their basic human rights,” Miss Hinman urged citing the recent political furore surrounding Tamil asylum seekers.

The referendum will be the first of its kind in the Southern-hemisphere, following democratically held referenda across Europe and Canada that have established an overwhelming mandate supporting the formation of a sovereign Tamil homeland in the island of Sri Lanka.

The event takes place almost a year since the Sri Lankan government launched a brutal campaign in the island’s North East, slaughtering up to 40,000 Tamil civilians en-route to a crushing defeat against Tamil Tiger rebels.

Seran Sribalan: 0406 123 503 www.vkr1976.com.au

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A Vision for a Real Education Revolution

6.30pm Tuesday April 20 (6pm for cheap dinner)
@ the Resistance Centre
23 Abercrombie St

Did you know that 2/3 of Federal education funding goes to educating the 1/3 of students who attend private schools? Today public education is being attacked on a number of fronts from under funding, league tables in high schools, to attacks on staff and student rights at University and TAFE. Come to this Socialist Alliance forum to hear from education activist fighting back for better quality education for all.

Speakers* include:
John Gauci, Teachers Federation activist
Susan Price, UNSW NTEU Branch President

*Speakers will be appearing in a personal capacity.

Ph 9690 1977 or Paul 0410 629 088 for more information.

Friday, 9 April 2010

"Unite against racism" rally to challenge far-right

April 9, 2010 - for immediate release

An emergency "Unite against racism" rally has been called for 2pm this Sunday, April 11, outside Villawood Detention Centre. The rally has been organized by a coalition of anti-racism groups, in response to the far-right Australian Protectionist Party who are rallying at the same place to attack refugee rights.

"The Protectionist Party are anti-refugee, anti-immigrant and racist," rally organiser Paul Benedek said. "They letterbox leaflets that scapegoat Africans, Muslims and immigrants for crime, unemployment and other social problems. They are big fans of Pauline Hanson and the British National Party, and target 'non-white' immigration, trying to whip up racial hatred."

"Yet the major parties are also to blame. They have given a green light to racism, by also demonizing refugees & using migrants as scapegoats."

"Racism kills. While the APP cowardly taunt refugees who are locked behind razor wire, with tacit support from Liberal and Labor, refugees face deportation to their deaths. Racist attacks on international students and immigrants are increasing."

"This rally will be a peaceful show of support for refugee rights, for equality and justice. We stand with those desperate asylum seekers who have fled war and persecution – not cowardly blaming them for the problems in this country. We will let all racists know their message of hate is not welcome."

Endorsements for the anti-racism rally include: Refugee Action Coalition, Latin American Social Forum, Sudanese Australian Human Rights Association, Social Justice Group, Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, Socialist Alternative, and Resistance.

Full details for the rally are:

"Unite against racism – refugees are welcome, racism is not!"
Rally 2pm, Sunday April 11,
Outside Villawood Detention Centre, 15 Birmingham Ave, Villawood.

More details can be found on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=109582062406674

The APP's anti-refugee rally is scheduled for the same place at 3pm. To get a sense of the APP’s racist views, just take a look at their website.

For more information or interviews about the anti-racism rally, contact Paul Benedek 0410 629 088 or James Supple 0438 718 348.

Call for Sydney counter-mobilisation to far-right this Sunday

Please forward this rally to ALL people who would be concerned about the far-right taunting asylum seekers, many of whom have fled war and persecution, while they are locked behind the razor wire

Refugees are welcome - racism is not!

The Australian Protectionist Party have called a rally attacking refugee rights for this Sunday, April 11, at 3pm outside Villawood Detention Centre.

The APP are anti-refugee, anti-immigrant & racist. They letterbox leaflets that scapegoat Africans, Muslims & immigrants for crime, unemployment & other social problems. However, the major parties are also to blame - they have given a green light to racism, by also demonising refugees & using migrants as scapegoats.

Racism kills. Refugees are still being deported to their deaths. Attacks on international students and immigrants are increasing.

We need a peaceful show of support for refugee rights, for equality and justice - and to let all racists know that their hatred is not welcome.
Rally Sun April 11, 2pm
At Villawood Detention Centre
15 Birmingham Ave, Villawood (nr Leightonfield Stn)

Please forward this message, organise your friends, bring placards and banners in support of refugees and against racism.

Supported by: Refugee Action Coalition, Latin American Social Forum, Sudanese Human Rights Assoc, Social Justice Group, Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, Socialist Alternative, Resistance.

For information, to add your support, or if you have ideas for the rally, please phone Paul 0410 629 088 or James 0438 718 348 or email paul.benedek2@ gmail.com

Saturday, 27 February 2010

I'm A Better Anarchist Than You, Some Thoughts on Vancouver and the Black Bloc by David Rovics

I love a good riot. The distant sound of things breaking, the smoke billowing from whatever is burning, the young men and women busily smashing whatever they can find into fist-sized pieces, launching the objects over the heads of their fellow rioters (if all goes well) and into the ranks of the black-clad police with their Ninja Turtle armour, translucent plastic shields and their array of far more sophisticated weaponry. I love the scent of tear gas (if I'm just on the outskirts of the cloud), it's exhilarating, the scent of possibility, of the situation's volatility, the thrilling uncertainty. The excitement of seeing the barricades get lit on fire, knowing that no police vehicle, no matter how well-armoured, is going to drive through that.

They're going to have to put the fire out first, and until they manage to get some big hoses to the scene (which might require the participation of the fire department, which might not want to participate), this is our block. Maybe the police even retreat a couple times under particularly heavy volleys of rocks and bottles, the crowd surges and cheers, meanwhile the more experienced rioters stay busy gathering wheelbarrows full of more things to throw at the cops, knowing they'll be back soon. My neighbour says it's because I'm an Aries, but whatever it is, if I find myself in the midst of such a situation, the memories are all fond ones of the rush and the togetherness of the moment. It's a warm, fuzzy feeling, really.

However, most people in most of the countries with which I'm fairly familiar – the US, Canada, England, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Japan – don't feel that way. For most people I meet riots are scary things and they don't care or notice much whether it was a chain store's windows smashed or a local one, whether only SUV's were torched or hybrids, too, whether any passersby got hurt in the process or not. The major news outlets don't pay much attention to what the underlying reasons for the rioting is – just enough about the situation for people to associate the riot with the cause and the cause with scary people who aren't like them.

I've been home in Portland over the past couple weeks, not in Vancouver for the Olympics and the

accompanying protests that tend to materialize when a gigantic corporate event and the international media covering it rolls into (and over) the town. By European standards the event the media was focusing on sounds like it was a pathetic little riot, a few smashed windows and overturned newspaper boxes, but it managed to attract the lion's share of Canadian and even international media coverage, as usual– it's sensational, but more than that it serves the purposes of corporate media outlets who, for political reasons, want to make most protesters look bad and don't want people going out to rock the boat in the first place.

By my informal count traveling around, I'd say that most people in many countries are afraid to go to protests, even if their sympathies are with those protesting. They're afraid of what they've heard in the media about how things get out of control. They'd rather avoid lines of police in riot gear, and they feel unsafe at the thought that what they believed was going to be a nonviolent event might suddenly get scary when a small group of people decide to start throwing rocks through store windows.

Some of the rock-throwing anarchists (as opposed to the far more numerous non-rock-throwing variety of anarchists) will now ask, who cares? Who cares if lots of people are afraid to come to protests because of us. They're “liberals” anyway (anyone who doesn't support your right to riot is a liberal, in case you didn't know).

But here's the thing: we need a mass movement, and contrary to what certain popular primitivist authors like to say, a few thousand dedicated people are not going to accomplish much of anything, let alone revolutionary change, without the support of a mass movement. That is, whatever tactics you're using to organize resistance groups of any kind, the tactics need to be ones that don't completely alienate the general public (very much including the “liberals”). And the general public tends to be freaked out by groups of people committing acts of violence (or forms of property destruction that seem violent to them). In recent decades lots of people in lots of places have embraced all kinds of militant and often effective tactics – strikes, bus boycotts, sit-ins, building take-overs, nonviolent civil disobedience of all kinds. Those of any political persuasion who would say that tactics like these are universally ineffective are simply ignorant.

Equally, there have been some pretty darn effective movements that have employed violence around the world over the past few decades and centuries, and you'd have to be an extremely ideological pacifist not to recognize that. But these movements that have employed violent means have used a lot more than rocks. It takes a pretty desperate situation (say, Cuba in 1959) for movements like that to garner popular support, and there's not a serious guerrilla movement anywhere that wouldn't admit that the fish need the sea in which to swim, or they quickly die.

In the context of most modern, relatively well-off countries, it seems quite evident that rioting – even if it's not much of a riot – only impedes anyone's efforts at building a movement. It is, in fact, a much-used strategy of the police, as we've seen time and time again certainly throughout North America, Europe and elsewhere. I have no doubt that the first rock thrown is thrown by an undercover cop at least half the time in most situations. I also have no doubt that most of the young people participating in Black Bloc and advocating for “diversity of tactics” (translation: “don't tell me not to throw rocks, you oppressive, ageist liberal carnivore!”) are well-meaning people doing a lot of good work in their communities when they're not throwing rocks through windows. But whether or not they want to believe it, when they start throwing rocks during a march they are doing exactly the same work as the police provocateurs – I mean literally, not figuratively.

Black Bloc: doesn't this make you wonder about what the fuck you're doing?


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

“Aborigines from across the country will fight nuclear dumping”

Media Release

Goodooga, northwest NSW, 24 February 10 – Aboriginal people will be called from all over Australia to protest in the Northern Territory against any movement of nuclear waste across their traditional lands, an Aboriginal activist says.

Michael Anderson, chairman of an Aboriginal Summit Task Force recently elected in Canberra (pictured at right), says in a media release: “Nothing will move down the former American Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton railway line from Darwin to Alice Springs.”

Mr. Anderson was responding on behalf of a majority of traditional land owners to an announcement by Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, that the Federal Government will pursue the first Australian radioactive waste repository at Muckaty Station, about 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.

Mr. Anderson condemned the Bureau of Northern Land Council for “ignoring the majority of the traditional land owners who do not want their country, Muckaty Station, used for nuclear waste dumping”.

He said the general Australian public fails to understand how much influence the federal government has over organisations such as the Northern Land Council, whose CEO is appointed by government.

“Aboriginal people are under siege from the tyranny of a Labor government who have no consideration whatsoever for our rights,” Mr. Anderson charges.

“What we have here is a repeat of the Ranger uranium mine agreement fiasco. The arrangements that are being made are illegal and the government and the Northern Land Council know full well that the traditional owners have little to no chance of fighting against this dictatorship.

“But don’t underestimate our resolve as a resistance group. It is time the Australian government woke up and understands that they are pushing us into a corner and we will come out fighting with all that we have.

“Our communications thus far with the traditional owners suggest that a fight is looming, and maybe then the Australian public will get the picture.”

Mr Anderson, the last survivor of the four Black Power activists who set up the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra in 1972, says he is pleased that the unions are offering support.

“The New Way Summit Task Force has been asked for their support to bring this matter to the attention of the public. The Task Force puts the Australian government on notice that like Noonkanber in Western Australia in 1979, we will call upon Aboriginal people to come from every part of this country and protest any movement of nuclear waste across our people’s traditional lands.”

“If the Europeans, Americans and China along with the rest of the world want to use nuclear power, then dump your rubbish on your own soil. You take it from us against our will and you now want to return it against our wishes.”

Muckaty Station is the country of the mother of Barbara Shaw (pictured left), Alice Springs camps activist and a member of the Summit Task Force. Ms Shaw commented on uranium mining in the Northern Territory at the Canberra summit from 30 January to 1 February.

She said only some people agreed to the dump “because they saw the dollar sign”. Although Elders had long warned that the radiation is dangerous, a lot more awareness needed to be created in the area. Listen to the extract at http://www.4shared. com/file/ 228500371/ e1144837/ Barbara_Shaw_ MINING.html.

The Taskforce can be contacted through Michael Anderson at 02 68296355 landline, 04272 92 492 mobile, 02 68296375 fax, ngurampaa@bigpond. com.au

-o-o-o-o-o-o- o-o-o-o-o- o-o-o-o-o- o-o-o-o-o- o-o-

Mr Anderson’s release in full:

As Chairman of the recently elected Aboriginal Summit Task Force, I condemn the Bureau of Northern Land Council for ignoring the majority of the traditional land owners who do not want their country, Muckaty Station, used for nuclear waste dumping.

What the general Australian public fails to understand is how much influence the Federal Government has over organizations such as the Northern Land Council. In the first instance the CEO of the Northern Land Council is a Government-appointe d person as per the Federal Northern Territory Land Rights Act. This does not fare very well for its perceived independence. Aboriginal people are under siege from the tyranny of a Labor Government who have no consideration whatsoever for our rights.

What we have here is a repeat of the Ranger uranium mine agreement fiasco. The arrangements that are being made are illegal and the Government and the Northern Land Council know full well that the traditional owners have little to no chance of fighting against this dictatorship. But don’t underestimate our resolve as a resistance group.

The public must now realize what this Labor Government are doing to Aboriginal people, blackmailing them to sign over their lands for infra-structure development and housing, but the real issues are now coming to a head and this is just one example of what is coming.

We do have rights and freedoms and it is time the Australian Government woke up and understands that they are pushing us into a corner and we will come out fighting with all that we have.

It is pleasing to see that the unions are offering support and our communications thus far with the traditional owners suggest that a fight is looming and maybe then the Australian public will get the picture.

The New Way Summit Task Force has been asked for their support to bring this matter to the attention of the public. The task force puts the Australian Government on notice that like Noonkanber in Western Australia in 1979, we will call upon Aboriginal people to come from every part of this country and protest any movement of nuclear waste across our people’s traditional lands. Nothing will move down the former American Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton railway line from Darwin to Alice Springs.

“If the Europeans, Americans and China along with the rest of the world want to use nuclear power, then dump your rubbish on your own soil. You take it from us against our will and you now want to return it against our wishes. No, the energy-hungry consumers need to look to a better way of doing business, and in this case bury your own nuclear waste in your own back yards; if you believe what you are told by your leaders that it is safe then you have no fears.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Stop the harassment to solidarity activists in Australia


4 February 2010

Take Action: Oppose to the attempts to criminalise International Solidarity

Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC) is deeply concerned about the recent questioning and interrogations of activists in Australia that for years have been working in solidarity with Colombia.

On 3 February 2010, a member of our organisation Mr. Alejandro Rodriguez was interviewed by the Australian Federal Police in an attempt to obtain information on individuals, the Agricultural Workers Union of Colombia (FENSUAGRO) and about the activities of our organisation.

Peace and Justice for Colombia is a solidarity organisation that promotes the respect of human rights of all Colombians and in doing so, we have been denouncing the violations of labour and human rights in that country under the regimen of Alvaro Uribe.

It is very shameful that Australian Federal Police is aiding Uribe’s regime that has been engaged in the systematic persecution of human rights defenders, journalists, labour leaders and the opposition. Still worse, there is evidence that Uribe’s regime has been involved in drug trade and paramilitarism.

Peace and Justice for Colombia believes that the actions of the AFP in this particular matter, violates the rights of Mr Rodriguez who for years have been involved in solidarity work with Colombia and with Latin America, but also the AFP action supports the Uribe regime’s campaign against international solidarity expressed by Australian trade unionists, individuals and political organizations.

PJFC requests that you and your organisation write to the Australian authorities to

  • Protest for the AFP cooperation with the Uribe administration
  • Condemn any attempts of Uribe to criminalise international solidarity with Colombia.
  • Demand that the Australian Government suspends its involvement with the Uribe regime until such time human and trade union rights are protected in Colombia.

Post or fax your messages and letters to:

Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Minister for Home Affairs

PO Box 6022

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2601

Tel: (02) 6277 7290 or

Fax: (02) 6273 7098

Tony Negus APM

Commissioner of the AFP

PO Box 401

Canberra City ACT 2601

Tel: (02) 6223 3000

Copy your letters to:

Peace & Justice for Colombia,

Email: pjfcolombia@gmail.com

Yours in solidarity,

Peace & Justice for Colombia, PJFC-Australia



For the respect of Labour and Human Rights!

Friday, 29 January 2010

R.I.P. Alistair Hulett

January 29, 2010 -- Alistair Hulett died at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow on Thursday evening, January 28, 2010. Alistair's partner Fatima thanks all those who wrote in with messages of support in the past week since news of Alistair's illness became public. The response was overwhelming, and shows just how many people cared about Alistair and his music.

* * *

Alistair, a truly great singer, songwriter, activist and socialist, will be greatly missed by us all.

Alistair Hulett was born in Glasgow and discovered traditional music in his early teens. In 1968 he and his family moved to New Zealand where he established a reputation on the folk circuit with his large repertoire of songs and his interpretation of the big narrative ballads.

In 1971, at the age of eighteen, Alistair moved over to Australia. For a couple of years he sang his way around Australia's festivals and clubs before "going bush" for several years. During this time he began to write his own songs and, following a two-year stint on the "hippy trail" in India, he returned to Australia in 1979 to find the punk movement in full swing. He joined in with the garage ethos in a band called The Furious Chrome Dolls.

In the early 1980s Alistair was again performing folk material around Sydney and was a founding member of a five-piece punk folk outfit called Roaring Jack, which specialised rocking Celtic reels and radical and revolutionary lyrics. Alistair was an active revolutionary socialist, with the International Socialist Organisation, and he and Roaring jack offered their talents for many benefits, rallies and demonstrations, in support of the antiwar movement and solidarity with workers in struggle.

For the next five years the Jacks made a startling impression on the Australian music scene. Their first album, StreetCeltabillity, was released in 1986 and reached No. 1 on the local indie charts. By the time the second album, The Cat AmongThe Pigeons was released in 1988 the band was headlining in major Australian rock venues, as well as opening for overseas acts including Billy Bragg, the Pogues, and The Men They Couldn't Hang. The The Cat Among The Pigeons was nominated for an Australian Music Industry Association (ARIA) award and was released in Europe by the German labelIntercord.

Alistair's solo work was always a part of the Jacks' live shows and offers to appear at festivals and clubs in his own right drew him further back into the folk orbit. By 1989 his songs were being extensively covered by several stalwarts of the Australian folk establishment. The demise of Roaring Jack coincided with this period and after the release of their third album, ThroughThe Smoke of Innocence, the band decided to call it a day despite another ARIA nomination.

Alistair's first solo CD, Dance of the Underclass, was recorded in 1991. Completely acoustic, with contributions from other members of Roaring Jack, the album was instantly hailed as a folk classic and proved to be the turning point in Alistair's return to the folk fold. His position as one of the most influential musicians on the Australian scene was now beyond dispute. In the UK his song, "He Fades Away", was picked up by Roy Bailey and by June Tabor and later by Andy Irvine. All three performers recorded uniquely different but thoroughly compelling interpretations of the song.

Rather than follow with more of the same Alistair recorded his solo CD with a return to the punk fuelled energy of the days with Roaring Jack. In the Backstreets of Paradise was a collection of songs originally intended as the next Jacks' release and rather than let the songs go to waste Alistair formed an acoustic outfit called The Hooligans to complete the cycle. The album caught some of Alistair's new found admirers among the purists unawares but during the next two years The Hooligans won them over with blistering live performances at every major folk festival in Australia. In the meantime Alistair continued his solo gigs with an ever growing reliance on the traditional songs that have always formed the backbone of his writing.

In 1995 Alistair compiled a collection of songs that owed little to punk and everything to the folk revival that inspired him in the sixties. Saturday Johnny and Jimmy The Rat was originally intended as a solo affair in homage to the likes of Ewan MacColl, Jeannie Robertson and Davie Stewart, as well as an acknowledgment of the time when the folk movement was a vital political and musical force.

At the time Dave Swarbrick was living in Australia and Alistair toyed with the idea of inviting Swarb to join him in the studio. Nothing more would have come of the notion had it not been for a phone call from a friend saying that Swarb wouldn't mind working with the bloke who had written "The Swaggies Have All Waltzed Matilda Away". Thus was forged a musical partnership that has won acclaim from audiences and critics alike.

Following a hugely successful Australian tour the duo returned to the UK. A triumphant perormance at Sidmouth in 1996 was broadcast by the BBC and was followed by a live in studio session a few weeks later. Since then Alistair and Dave have toured extensively in the UK, returned to Australia for another successful tour and recorded their second album together. The Cold Grey Light of Dawn was enthusiastically received and gathered some impressive reviews

Alistair, having returned to live in Scotland, continued to work solo and with Swarb. He wrote and performed three workshop presentations. "From Blackheath To Trafalgar Square" looked at "insurrection and resistance in the Disunited Kingdom" from the Peasants' Revolt to the poll tax riots. "The Fire Last Time" was a study of the protest song movement of the 1960s and "Red Clydeside" examined the working class unrest on the Clyde between 1915 and 1920.

Alistair, based once again in Glasgow, toured Australia in a double bill with US singer/songwriter David Rovics in December 2008-January 2009, playing benefits for Australia's leading radical newspaper, Green Left Weekly. Two more solo albums, In Sleepy Scotland and more recently Riches And Rags, confirmed Alistair Hulett’s position as one of the most consistent songwriters, musicians and interpreters of the tradition in Scotland. Folk On Tap called him "One of the defining voices of Scottish music" and a reviewer in the influential music magazine fROOTS wrote: "Hulett is at once an intense singer, radiating conviction, and a genuinely imaginative lyricist."

In partnership with 1960s veteran Scots folksinger Jimmy Ross, Alistair Hulett presented word and song presentations with powerpoint visual images at various events and festivals around the UK. Alistair and Jimmy shared a common political perspective, with both being deeply involved in socialist politics, and this bond was evident in the scripts they prepared together for these presentations. The three they have performed so far are titled Which Side Are You On? The Life And Times Of Pete Seeger, Ewan MacColl And The Politics Of The British Folk Revival and Ireland – A History Of Struggle In Song.

Most recently, Alistair Hulett joined with several Yorkshire based musicians to form a five-piece, semi-electric band calledThe Malkies. This was Hulett’s first return to working with a full-time band since Roaring Jack called it a day in 1992. Their debut album was Suited And Booted (2008).

Alistair toured Australia for the last time in late 2009, and again made his talents available to the socialist cause.

Sources: http://www.folkicons.co.uk/alisbio.htm, http://www.alistairhulett.com/biography.htm, http://www.roaringjack.com/

Reviews of Alistair Hulett in Green Left Weekly:
Revolutionary music from 'Sleepy Scotland'
Album puts Hulett among the best

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