Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Geelong Sandwich-gate Affair #1

From the Geelong Trades Hall Council blogsite:

Get online to help defend sacked workers

Send an email to City of Greater Geelong CEO and Councillors against their decision to sack ASU members Mick Van Beek and Peter Anderson!

The ASU is appalled at the decision handed down by the City of Greater Geelong to sack union members Mick Van Beek and Peter Anderson.To support Mick and Peter, click on this link:

to send an email protest form to the CEO and Councillors at the City of Greater Geelong. It will take less than a minute!The pair were unjustly given their marching orders after they filled in two pot holes that were hazardous to elderly patrons of the Leopold Sportsman Club last November during their lunch break, receiving two free steak sandwiches at management's insistence a week later.Assistant Secretary Igor Grattan has announced the ASU will doing everything within its power to help Van Beek and Anderson get their jobs back.

To support Mick and Peter, click here send an email protest form to the CEO and Councillors at the City of Greater Geelong.

It will take less than a minute!More information can be found at:

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The climate movement needs freedom of speech

from Green Left Weekly, 26 July 2009

The following open letter was sent to the Australian Youth Climate Coalition from Resistance. It is in response to the Power Shift 2009 conference in Sydney on July 11-13.


We face a climate emergency. Climate tipping points are rapidly being approached, which, if passed, could mean an uninhabitable planet.

Climate scientist James Hansen said in 2008 that we only had a decade to act to avert catastrophe. Since then, all indicators have shown that it may be even more urgent than that.

Despite this, governments across the world, including the Australian government, continue to set greenhouse emission reduction targets that are totally inadequate, jeopardizing our future on the planet.

Faced with this emergency and government inaction, we agree that a “power-shift” is needed: a shift away from current governments whose policies are written in the interest of big polluters rather than of achieving a safe climate.

This is blatant in the Labor government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bill, which would give more than $9 billion in permits to big polluters, make individual actions to cut overall emissions impossible will even allow emissions to increase.

We therefore find it strange that, at Power Shift 2009 — a national youth climate summit — the very people and organisations we need to shift the power from were given a platform to greenwash their policies and portray themselves as serious about climate change.

In some sessions, participants could not ask a single question or publicly respond. In others, the chair selected one question from the floor to read out; stifling debate or comments that would expose the role that these climate vandals actually play.

This meant NSW Premier Nathan Rees was able to talk of banning hunting in National Parks, while his government is massively expanding coal-fired power stations. Participants were unable to take him up.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann spoke of how his state was leading the way in banning plastic bags — while expanding uranium mining and forcing radioactive waste onto Aboriginal communities.

And Emma Hurd, from Westpac, spoke about her bank’s commitment to stopping climate change, while it remains a major investor in the environmentally destructive mining company Rio Tinto.

We do not believe these people are part of the climate change movement. They are climate criminals and should not be provided with more space to tell young people that their “business-as-usual” organisations are part of stopping climate change.

Politicians such as Rann and Rees and companies such as Westpac have platforms from which they are able to spin their fake climate change policies everyday.

What’s worse, these speakers were given an audience to the exclusion of progressive groups that don’t have the same resources. Instead of Rees speaking in front of thousands, we could have heard from Graham Brown, a retired coalminer who is fighting for a just transition to a green economy: a transition that does not disadvantage current coal workers.

Instead of Rann, we could have heard Rebecca Bear-Wingfield speaking about the actual impacts of uranium mining on Indigenous people.

Perhaps most concerning were the active attempts to stifle the dissent of participants who wanted to challenge the people, organisations and ideas that would lead us to a climate disaster.

When participants turned their back on Rann and chanted in disgust at his policies, security forcibly removed them. When participants tried to hand out material criticising the environmental records of some of speakers, they were told to stop or security would be called.

One of the reasons given was that the material would “upset the sponsors”. Big fees were also charged to hold campaigning stalls.

If a power shift is to occur, those who hold power and refuse to act need to be confronted: people need to be told the truth about their actions.

By silencing those who seek to expose the climate vandals, you line up with the politicians who continue a business-as-usual approach.

By shutting down campaigners because they may offend sponsors, you are effectively saying that those with enough money can buy their way out of any criticism. By charging exorbitant fees for non-profit organisations, you are effectively saying that the views of groups without much money aren’t worth being heard.

Many speakers argued for the climate movement to draw on past social movements, such as the movement to abolish slavery or the civil rights movement in the United States, or the anti-Vietnam war movement.

These are all great examples, but what they had in common was that the movements themselves were hotbeds of ideas.

Many different groups and individuals put forth their views on the best ways forward for the movement. It was through the battle of ideas that the movements worked out how to proceed, and how to win.

To win a safe-climate future, the climate movement must be one of the biggest movements in human history: the only way it can succeed is if freedom of speech and freedom of ideas flourish.

We sincerely hope that the AYCC will take this on board and commit to freedom of speech for all those in the climate movement at future events.

Join the protests at the ALP 2009 national conference Jul 30-Aug 1

Below are details of some of the protests against the Rudd Labor government's right-wing policies that will be held at the ALP national conference this week (Thursday July 30 - Saturday August 1). The Socialist Alliance would like to encourage everyone to attend. You can read about why these protests are taking place here.

There will be a Socialist Alliance working bee to make props, placards and banners in Sydney 5.30pm-7pm Tuesday July 28 @ the Resistance Centre, 23 Abercrombie St, Chippendale. If you can come and help us at any of these protests and/or help at the working bee please call Brianna 0439 694 505 or Peter 9690 1977/0401 760 577

Thursday: Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill
9am @ Convention Centre, Darling Habour

Thursday: Stop the NT Intervention
Join a public lobby of the ALP conference. Hands off Tangentyere - no blackmail! - no take-over of Alice Springs Aboriginal town camps - housing and services NOW for all communities. 12noon Thursday July 30 @ Convention Centre, Darling Harbour. Organised by the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney.

Thursday: Troops out of Afghanistan
Join the Stop the War Coalition from 12 noon on Thursday 30 July at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre, to call on the ALP to bring the troops home and end the war on the people of Afghanistan. For more information ph Pip Hinman 0412 139 968, Marlene Obeid 0401 758 871, Anne Picot 0404 090 710

Thursday: Gaza Defence Committee is calling on supporters of Palestine to help leaflet the ALP conference
At noon GDC will be leafleting outside the convention centrewith a leaflet calling for support for the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
A further action will take place at 5pm at an event being organised by Paul Howes, secretary of the Australian Workers' Union and a promoter of an international group, TULIP, which is opposed to isolating apartheid Israel. This event is at the Maritime Museum, 2 Murray St, Darling Harbour.
For more information about the Howes' event see <>
For more information about TULIP, see <>
For a critical appraisal of TULIP see <>
To find out more about this action ring Raul 0403 037 376 or Diane on 0413 003 148.

Friday: Billionaires for Coal's "celebration" of ALP coal & climate change policy
9am @ the Convention Centre

Friday: Protest for Honduras
Restore democrasy, no more dicatorships! Protest outside the ALP national conference. 5pm Friday July 31 Convention Centre Darling Harbour. Convention Centre Darling Harbour.Organised by the Latin American Forum. Ph John for more info 0413 310 452.

Friday: Jobs and Rights for Working Australians - Rip up all Howard's anti-union laws!
12.45pm – 2pm Friday 31 July. Parkside Auditorium, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre Darling Harbour. Meeting for all trade unionists & ALP conference delegates. For more information contact Pirjo Laine: ph 03 9664 7333

Saturday: National Day of Action for Same-Sex Marriage. This year we alongside our Melbourne brothers and sisters, we will stage the nation's largest 'illegal' same-sex wedding! Chances are your relationships won't be formally recognised on the day, and you'll still be considered a second-class citizen long after you've consumated your marriage... so, what the hell... grab your partner, shine your ring, and invite your friends - we're getting hitched! Start 12pm @ Town Hall march to ALP conference @ the Sydney Convention Centre.
Organised by Community Action Against Homophobia

Progressive fringe events at ALP conference:

Burma's future and Australia's role in it
Date: Saturday, August 1, 2009
Time: 12:30pm - 2:00pm
South Steyne Floating Restaurant and Function Centre
Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour
Sydney, Australia
Phone: 0416289235
Email: Australia's Role in a Time of Crisis

THE PERFECT STORM: Australia's role in a time of crisis
The Centre for Policy Development and Oxfam Event at the ALP Fringe Porgram
Friday July 31, 6pm, The Sussex Room, Crowne Plaza, 150 Day St, Darling Harbour.
Speakers include: Sharan Burrow (ACTU and ITUC President), Andrew Hewett (Executive Director, Oxfam Australia), Ian Dunlop (CPD Fellow and previous head of the Australian Institute of Company Directors), Reverend Tafue Lusama (Chairman, Tuvalu Climate Action Network), Ben McNeil (Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW)
RSVP to or call 02 9514 2034.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The "Workers International Network"

Apparently made up of revolutionaries of largely of the ex-CWI variety, Socialist Unity has spied the announcement/ creation of a new International/ Grouping/ Network/ Thing called Workers International Network.

Who we are, what we want

long march 3

The world today stands on the brink of catastrophe: a “perfect storm” that threatens to tear society apart and call into question the survival of human civilisation itself.
This website represents the ideas of a network of workers from several countries. We all participate in a broad online discussion list which links committed socialists worldwide, and provides a forum for the vital exchange of experiences and ideas. At its best, it has been a source of advice, support, and even occasional inspiration. Many of the list’s participants – not all from the same past traditions – have evolved over a period a certain common political outlook, and we feel that the time has come to set down more explicitly some of these common principles.

This task is especially timely, given that we find ourselves at a turning point in world history. During the previous period, it was right to give priority to reflecting on past lessons, drawing a balance sheet, and re-examining basic principles, to adjust to the changed balance of forces and prepare for the new period ahead. With the sudden implosion of the world financial system, however, and the imminent prospect of class struggles not witnessed perhaps for more than 70 years, it is now time to take a more proactive stance. The first step towards building the kind of coherent political movement that can hope to change society is to work out answers to the complex new questions of the day, and work accordingly to spread our ideas.

Nothing less than a worldwide party of the working class is needed. We have no pretensions to constitute even the embryo of such a party, let alone a substitute for it. We are just a like-minded group of committed co-thinkers with a certain point of view. We simply offer these ideas as a contribution to the discussion that will help arm the pioneers of such a future party. In the common interests of workers everywhere seeking a way forward to a better and more rational society, we welcome discussion and interaction with anyone with similar objectives.

UK: Roger Silverman, Ed Bober, Julian Silverman, Felicity Dowling, Matt Hollinshead, Rob Jones.
Ireland: Jimmy Kelly, Harry Hutchinson, Dermot Connolly, Cllr Joan Collins.
USA: John Reimann, Joel Schor.
France: Raymond Debord, Vincent Présumey, François Ferrette.
Pakistan: Farooq Tariq.
Germany: Walter Held.
South Africa: Martin Legassick

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Resistance statement of solidarity with Vestas workers

Resistance, an Australia-wide socialist youth organisation, sends greetings and solidarity to the workers occupying the Vestas plant on the Isle of Wight and join the calls of protest against Vestas’ decision to close down the wind turbine factory.

This decision is clearly a case of corporate greed being placed ahead of the needs of workers, the community, and the environment on which we all depend. As companies and governments around the world state that action on climate change can only come at the expense of the economy, this decision highlights that what is meant by the economy is profits for the corporate elite. This green industry has provided hundreds of jobs for the people of the Isle of Wight and supported thousands more indirectly and we need to open more factories like it, not close them down, to make a safe climate future possible.

Resistance supports calls for Gordon Brown’s Labour government to step in and nationalise the Vestas factory. The twin crises the world now faces – the economic crisis and the ecological crisis – both have their roots in the greedy exploitation and profiteering of the free market. What is clearly needed is massive government investment in renewable energy, supporting green jobs and beginning the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Resistance support the demands of the workers and calls for immediate trade union recognition, nationalisation of the factory under the control of the workers, and making the plant a building block for a green energy revolution. We add our support to the trade unions, fellow workers and general public who have rallied to save the workers and save the planet.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Vestas Workers Beseiged By Riot Police!

From "FACTORY UNDER OCCUPATION: Save 600 jobs at Vestas!", a blog covering the occupation of Vestas wind turbine factory in the UK:

(Updated Press Release)

Workers staging a sit-in at the soon-to-close Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight are being starved out by police.

The police, many inside the factory and dressed in riot gear, have denied food to the workers who took over the factory offices last night, to protest about the closure of their factory. The police, operating with highly questionable legal authority, have surrounded the offices, preventing supporters from joining the sit-in, and preventing food from being brought to the protestors.

Around 20 workers at the Vestas Plant in Newport, on the Isle of Wight, occupied the top floor of offices in their factory to protest against its closure which will result in over 500 job losses.

Acting without an injunction, on private property, the police have repeatedly tried to break into the office where the protesting workers have barricaded themselves, and have threatened the workers with arrest for aggravated trespass, despite the fact that no damage has been done to the property where the protest is taking place. Police have also forcibly removed people from private property, another action that is of very questionable legality in the absence of a formal injunction.

The officer involved in the latter action was number 3606. The officer who appears to be in charge is 3115. It may help to let the local police authorities know that we are unhappy with their handling of the situation – in this case the email address to bombard is

This heavy handed response is the latest in a long line of over-reactions to protest by various UK police forces.

Tamils to mark Black Friday - Sydney

Friday 24th July 2009.
5 - 8pm.
Sydney Town Hall Square.

July 23rd 1983 marks a significant phase in the history of the Tamils. On this day, 3000 Tamil lives were taken, tens of thousands of houses were destroyed and many were forced to leave their homes to other countries. It is now 26 years on and the Tamils are still facing brutal genocide at the hands of the Sri Lankan government. 300 000 Tamils remain detained behind barbed wire in internment camps with no freedom of movement and minimal access to the necessities of food, shelter and clothing. The Sri Lankan government continues to play their propaganda and have denied aid agencies, media monitors and journalists access to these camps to cover up their atrocities.

Black July is a day of commemoration by Tamils all around the world and a day that remains implanted in the hearts of every single Tamil. In Sydney, Tamils will unite in Town Hall Square on Friday 24th July for a candle light vigil, as we stand together in solidarity and mourn the many lives we have lost on this Black Day.

When: Friday 24th July
Time: 5 – 8pm
Venue: Sydney Town Hall Square

Please wear something black/dark and warm clothing and bring your own candles if possible.

As we lament the lives of our fellow brethren, we shall remain unified and together we shall work for a brighter future for our people still trapped in the camps!!! Let us be one voice for the voiceless.

Please forward this to your family and friends.

Latin America Solidarity Conference 2009

People´s Power is Changing the World
Latin America Solidarity Conference 2009
August 28-29, 2009 - Victorian Trades Hall

Major cracks are appearing in the global capitalist system – cracks that are being forced open by the tide of rebellions and revolutions across Latin America.

From Cuba to Venezuela and Bolivia to El Salvador, people’s power is toppling neo-liberal governments, challenging multinational corporations, and constructing social and economic alternatives to the plunder, war and injustices of the old system. For 50 years, the Cuban revolution has inspired millions of people around the world struggling for independence, human rights and genuine democracy. Now, the Venezuelan revolution, with its vision of “socialism of the 21st century”, is continuing to provide examples of what a socialist government can achieve.

Imperialism is confronting an unprecedented challenge to its brutal rule. The Latin America Solidarity Conference will provide an open forum for all people wanting to learn about, learn from and build solidarity in Australia with the people’s power movements in Latin America.

This conference is being organised and sponsored by: Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (Australia), Centre for Latin America Solidarity & Studies, Peace and Justice & Colombia, Communist Party of Chile (Australia), Guatemalan Human Rights Committee, Australian Solidarity with Latin America, Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URGN), Communist Party of Australia, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Socialist Alliance, Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (Adelaide, Sydney)


Friday*: Conc $5/ regular $10/ Solidarity $15 (* When registering for Saturday, Friday is free)
Saturday: Conc $15/ regular $40/ Solidarity $50

To register please fill in the online form on the website or send a registration forms to c/ PO Box 5421 CC Melbourne VIC 3001
For more information, please email or phone
Roberto 0425 182 994, Sean 0415 122 135, Oscar 0415 232 057, Paul 0413 072 137 or Lisa 0413 031 108
Payments can be made by Money order or Cheque payable to Solidarity Conference.
If you wish to endorse or help to promote this conference, please contact us to distribute leaflets or posters.

AGENDA: FRIDAY 7 pm • People’s power is changing the world: revolution and reconstruction in Latin America 50 years since the victory of the Cuban revolution and 10 years since the coming to power of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela has shown that the continent is unwilling to bow to international capital. Over the last few years further victories have been added including Evo Morales in Bolivia and the FMLN in El Salvador. What does all this mean for a new socialism of the 21st century?

SATURDAY 9:30 am • Obama´s foreign policy for Latin America: militarisation, blockade& trade agreements The Bush administration supported death squads and mass killings in Colombia, an attempted coup in Venezuela, continued the blockade against Cuba, organised assassination attempts against Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales and reinforced trade agreements in favour of its multinationals. Will the empire be any different under the Democrat regime of Obama?

Simultaneous Workshops on various topics
2 pm • Latin America as alternative: new models of economic, social and political power
After more than two decades of orthodox neoliberal doctrine and anti-democratic regimes, the tide has decisively turned across Latin America. Spearheaded by the Venezuelan revolution’s practical experiments in participatory economic and democratic models, the movement is impacting struggle from Bolivia to El Salvador and Ecuador. The “end of history” has itself ended; a new discussion and practice for human survival and justice is being pursued apace.

Simultaneous major Workshops: 1) The Venezuelan Revolution 2) Central America 3)Workers´ struggle in Latin America

5:30 pm • Their struggle is our struggle: Strengthening solidarity Campaigns, brigades and projects have been part of the process of globalising resistance to exploitation and inequality and building solidarity between Australia and Latin America.
Followed by a Latin Fiesta, featuring The Conch plus many Latin American Cultural performances. Food and drinks available.

  • Heryck Rangel Hernandez: National coordinator of the Venezuelan Eco-Citizens movement, student leader, radio broadcaster and activist with the PSUV Youth.
  • Daniel Sanchez: Leader in Venezuela´s “people´s power” movement through the Rebirth of the South Commune, local councillor for South Valencia and activist in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)
  • Nélson Dávila: Founding member of Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement and currently head of Venezuela’s diplomatic mission in Australia.

  • Jaime Gajardo: General Secretary of the United Workers Federation of Chile CUT, member of the Communist Party and a long time activist with the Teachers movement, also the head of this union. One of the most outstanding leaders of the teachers´ struggle in the last decade in Chile.

  • Walter Rolando Félix: long time activist for human rights and better living conditions in Guatemala. Current parliamentarian for the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) and representative for the Commission for Peace and against field mines.
  • Jesús González: Founding member of the United Workers Federation of Colombia, forced to leave his country as a result of his work as political leader, organiser and for his work documenting the assassination of trade union leaders in Colombia.

A call to protest at the ALP National Conference

Via the Socialist Alliance

The Rudd Labor government has betrayed the expectations of millions who voted for progressive change in the last federal elections in Australia.

  • Workers and unionists are now working under a "Fair Work Act" that restricts basic rights and violates International Labor Organisation conventions. In the words of Dean Mighell, secretary of the Southern States' branch of the Electrical Trades Union: "'Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard were elected on the back of working people and the Your Rights at Work campaign. Now they are in parliament, they have blatantly disregarded their promises to Aussie workers." For more see
  • The incrementalism of Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is, in the words of Greens' senator Christine Milne, "worse than useless in the face of the climate crisis. Just as you can't be a little bit pregnant, you can't stop climate change by doing 5% of what is necessary. Or even 25%." For more see
  • The "intervention" into Northern Territory Indigenous communities is a disaster, provoking the resignation of long-standing NT Indigenous ALP minister Marion Scrymgeour. The latest news is that a group of 30 Indigenous leaders from Ampilatwaja have set up a protest camp three kilometres from their township, about 300km north-east of Alice Springs. According to their spokesperson Richard Downs: "Our people are demoralised, hurt, embarrassed, outcast on their own community. We no longer have any rights to exist as humans in our own country..." For more see
  • Then there's environment minister Peter Garrett, approver of uranium mines. He used to say:

    Just four powerful reasons to join the protests outside the Australian Labor Party's 2009 national conference in Sydney Darling Harbour Convention Centre, July 30 - August 1.

    Here are some more:

  • UWS Open Forum: 'Is Australia giving refugees a fair go'

    We extend a warm invitation for you to attend the 2009 Open Forum “Is Australia Giving Refugees a Fair Go?” The forum guest speakers, Denis O’Brien, Principal Member, Migration & Refugee Review Tribunals and Jacqueline Everitt, author of the book “The Bitter Shore”, will address the issue of the effects of the government’s policy of mandatory detention on children.

    The Forum will be held on Wednesday 12 August at Building EZ, Female Orphan School , Parramatta campus, arriving at 5.30pm for a 6.00pm start. Full details of the venue are attached.

    This forum is a continuation of the series which started in 2008 and will continue to deal with topical and contemporary social issues and aim to bring academia and the Greater Western Sydney Community together.

    We would greatly appreciate it if you could distribute this invitation through your networks.

    We look forward to seeing you there.

    Best Regards


    Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM FAICD
    Director, Equity and Diversity
    University of Western Sydney
    Locked Bag 1797,
    Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia
    Phone: +61 2 9678 7378
    Fax: +61 2 9678 7373
    Mobile: +61 413 474744
    Werrington Campus, Building AK.G.07

    Tuesday, 14 July 2009

    "Stolen" - the truth on Western Sahara?

    Below are two documents on the recent spat over the film "Stolen", claiming to report on slavery in Western Sahara. The first is a press release from Kamal Fadel, Western Sahara Representative and its Ambassador to East Timor. The second article - also by Fadel - is reprinted from Links - International Journal of Socialist Renewal. There is a long and involved debate taking place on the veracity of the film on the Links website which readers are encouraged to visit.

    **13 July 2009**
    *Government is urged to remove its name from discredited film*
    *Melbourne** Film Festival should withhold screening*

    Government backing for the controversial Australian film “Stolen” must be withdrawn until a thorough investigation of its backing is conducted, say those working for the film's subjects.

    The film has been backed by Screen Australia, using federal government money, to the tune of around $300,000. The imprimatur of Screen Australia and of the Australian Government are prominently displayed on the film's opening credits.

    “We urge the Government to remove its name from this controversial film” said Kamal Fadel, Western Sahara Representative to Australia and its Ambassador to East Timor.

    The film makes claims of widespread slavery in the refugee camps of the disputed territory of Western Sahara. The camps, which are self-run with the support of the Frente Polisario, have existed since the mid-1970's when many fled the illegal invasion of the area by Moroccan forces.

    The claims have been attacked as being false by those in film who are said to be slaves and the film-makers have been accused of manufacturing fiction to appear as facts.

    Fadel says the case against the film's veracity is mounting.

    “Already we have seen a letter from the a high level official of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees who has said the film-makers completely misrepresent the situation and that important facts have been at best misunderstood and at worst completely manufactured to back the claims the film makes.”(1)

    “Now, as the report in today's Sydney Morning Herald reveals, the film's official translator has sought to distance himself from the film. He says his corrections were ignored and that he did not approve the final cut of the film.”(2)

    “This should be a very serious blow to the credibility of the film” says Mr. Fadel.

    Yet, the film, which was controversially launched at the Sydney Film Festival in June, is scheduled to screen in the documentary section of the Melbourne International Film Festival in early August.

    Polisario and a range of other bodies believe this has been in contravention of Screen Australia's own terms of engagement.

    “We believe this should be the subject of an investigation and we call on the federal Arts Minister, the Hon, Peter Garrett to initiate such a process immediately,” adds Mr. Fadel.

    “We have no problem with this film being seen by the Australian public,” notes Mr Fadel.

    “But we object to it being seen as a depiction of reality when it clearly is not, and we believe, as a result, the film should be withdrawn as a government-backed project.” Mr. Fadel adds “we call on the Melbourne Film Festival to reconsider the screening of the film until its translation is independently verified by a native speaker of Hassania from Western Sahara. The film as its now does not also fit the category of a documentary”.
    * *
    *For further inquiries:*
    Kamal Fadel, Western Sahara Representative and its Ambassador to East Timor

    Australia: Damage on many fronts in false charge of slavery in Western Sahara

    Fetim Sallem.

    A documentary on Western Sahara refugees marks a low point, Kamal Fadel writes.

    July 1, 2009 -- Last month in Sydney, the notion of democracy took a pounding. The launch of the documentary Stolen at the Sydney Film Festival marked a low point in local film culture, and signified the tenuous grip on truth we now have in contemporary society. That such a film should be financed with about A$350,000 of public money –- through Screen Australia -– and accepted by the prestigious festival raises questions about the nature of reality and on how it is depicted in mainstream media, such as through the medium of the film documentary.

    The film purports, in a sensationalistic way, to reveal widespread evidence of racially based slavery in the Saharawi refugee camps on the Western Sahara-Algeria border. Central to the apparent scoop is an interview with Fetim Sallem, a 36-year-old mother of four. She was in Australia to explain her story, which is significantly at odds with the film's take on it (so much so that Fetim requested unsuccessfully to have her interviews removed from the film).

    Rather than verifying shaky claims of slavery and then seeking out the source of this possible ill (say in the repressive environment the Saharawi people have endured since the illegal invasion by Moroccan forces in 1975, an event that sent many into the camps that still exist today), the filmmakers of Stolen chose to conflate a few ill-gotten and misunderstood accusations into a tabloid expose. The approach of the film-makers challenges the very basis of the documentary genre and undermines its value as a means of serious scrutiny. In an age when reality TV is nothing of the sort and when celebrity gossip is considered hard news, this is perhaps not surprising. But it is disappointing and very distressing for those who, like Fetim, are vilified in the process.

    There are fundamental flaws in the film-makers' storyboard. Fetim is not a slave and widespread slavery simply does not exist in the Saharawi refugee camps. This fact has been confirmed by numerous visits by independent journalists and human rights reporters over the years.

    A member of a delegation sent by Human Rights Watch to investigate the film-makers' claims said the delegation ‘‘did not find evidence of forced labour, certainly not of slavery of the kind’’ in 19th century America.

    The Saharawi live under great strain and considerable duress, brought about by decades of foreign occupation. A generation has grown up in a refugee environment. Our society is not perfect, our situation not Utopian. None is.

    But, slavery is something Polisario abhors and is on the record as opposing. The practice is an unacceptable cultural anachronism and we have outlawed it completely since the inception of our independence movement in 1973.

    Polisario has worked hard to address whatever human rights issues we find in our midst and we continue to undermine all forms of abuse and restrictions on liberty. This year, Polisario openly lobbied hard for the United Nations mandate to include a human rights monitoring process in its mission in Western Sahara. This was quashed by France, an erstwhile supporter of the Moroccan occupiers in Western Sahara, using its veto power in the Security Council.

    The biggest threat to human rights in Western Sahara is the illegal Moroccan occupation and the failure of the international system –- epitomised by France's blocking actions. These weaknesses ensure the Saharawi remain trapped in a nightmare of Realpolitik, driven to some extent by Morocco's vast propaganda machine. The simple desire, backed by UN resolutions, to allow the Saharawi the right to decide their fate (independence or autonomy under Moroccan administration) in a free and fair referendum remains, inexplicably, unrealised.

    Reality is clearly a fungible commodity in the eyes of the makers of this film, for its backers and for the festival organisers. They are reflective of a wider crisis in the ability to discern truth from fiction. They are not alone. There has been a negative impact on the life of Fetim Sallem by the actions of the film-makers and also on the cause of independence in Western Sahara. That’s a reality no one can challenge.

    [Kamal Fadel is the Australian representative of Polisario, the Western Sahara independence movement. This arricle first appeared in the Canberra Times and has been post at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Kamal Fadel's permission.]

    Monday, 6 July 2009

    VIDEO: No Sell OFF of Public Assets Rally -- Brisbane July 3, 2009

    BRISBANE: Fifteen hundred trade unionists and their supporters marched through the streets of Brisbane on July 3 to oppose the sell off of Queensland public assets. The protest had been called by the Electrical Trades Union and later was supported by the Queensland Council of Unions.Addressing the rally were speakers from the QCU, AFULE, ASU and the Rail Tram and Bus Union.

    Mick Carr from the Maritime Union of Australia told the rally that there was no upside for a one off fixing of the debt by selling off public assets. Peter Simpson , state secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, said that his union wont be putting one cent into the ALP coffers at the next election if this legislation is still on the books.

    He said it was time to put a line in the sand.

    David Matters from the Rail Tram and Bus Union told everyone that his union, with community support, had won their fight against the prisatisation of the Brisbane City Council bus service in the 1990s.To applause he said, that it was time to put Anna Bligh under the control of working people.

    But the surprize from among the speakers came from ALP state president and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Secretary, Andrew Dettmar, who said that his union will not be supporting any politician at the next state election unless they make a no privatisation pledge.

    The rally was followed by a march to state parliament .

    Tariq Ali on Obama and Pakistan

    Via Lenin's Tomb. Filmed by Ady Cousins:

    Wales: Time For A Rainbow Coalition

    Via the Socialist Unity blog:

    by Adam Price MP
    Er gwaetha’r cynnydd yng nghefnogaeth y Blaid a’n llwyddiant yn ein cadarnleoedd, mae’r anfadwaith bod pleidiau cenedlaetholaidd Prydeining wedi gwneud bron cystal a’r Blaid Genedlaethol Gymreig yn yr Etholiadau Ewropeaidd yng Nghymru dal yn fy mhoeni. Gobiethio bod hyn yn pigo cydwybod pob gwladgarwr wnaeth aros gatre, ond mae’n gyfrifoldeb arna i ofyn beth a ellir gwneud yn well neu’n wahanol. Yn hen draddodiad y trioedd, dyma dair, taer awgrym.

    Rhaid i ni beidio ymddiheuro am ein cenedlaetholdeb. Yn oes globaleiddio mae gwleidyddiaeth hunaniaeth a’r amgen am ail-wreiddio grym gwleidyddol mewn cymunedau lleol a chenedlaethol yn ganolog i’n cyfnod. Dyna yn rhannol sydd wrth wraidd twf y Dde Brydeinig; consyrn gwirioneddol am bwer anatebol, boed yn sefydliadau Ewropeaidd annemocrataidd neu gorfforaethau’n ecsploetio llafur rhad.

    Ein cyfrifoldeb a’n cyfle fel cenedlatholwyr Cymreig yw dangos bod yna ddewis amgen i hunaniaeth Brydeinig, hiliol y BNP (fyddai yn hala Colin Jackson ‘adre’, ond nid y mewnfudwr i Faldwyn, Gauleiter Griffin) a gwrth-Gymreig UKIP (sydd am ddileu’r Cynulliad ynghyd ag unrhyw fesur o ddwyieithrwydd). Mae hyn yn golygu gwella’n gallu i gynhyrchu negeseuon syml, gafaelgar: mi oedd neges UKIP, a’r BNP, dim ots pa mor wyrdroedig, yn hawdd i’w cofio ac yn uniongyrchol. Rhaid i ni greu neges o genedligrwydd cynhwysol Gymreig sydd yr un mor rymus emosiynol.

    Yn ail, mae rhaid i ni dargedu’r dosbarth gweithiol sydd wedi eu bradychu gan Lafur newydd ac sydd nawr yn chwilio am gartref gwleidyddol newydd. Ar wahan i’r Cymoedd, mae’r Blaid wedi bod yn blaid y dosbarth canol Cymraeg am gyfran helaeth o’i bodolaaeth. Pan ymunodd fy nheulu i a’r Blaid yn ystod Streic y Glowyr, roedd e’n dipyn o sioc ddiwylliant i’r Blaid yn lleol. O fewn rhai misoedd, mi holltodd y gangen yn ddau: un yn cwrdd yn Neuadd Les y Glowyr a’r llall yn hen dy rheolwr yr Ammanford Colliery Company a oedd bellach yn ‘country club’ y Wernoleu. Mae’r Blaid a Rhydaman wedi mynd ar siwrnai gwleidyddol ers y ddyddiau hynny – ond os ydym am wireddu ein potensial fel yr ydym yn Sir Gar ac yn hen ardaloedd y chwareli, rhaid i ni droi nid yn unig yn Blaid Cymru, ond plaid pobl cyffredin trwy Gymru gyfan.

    Yn olaf, mae rhaid i ni ffurfio cynghreiriau. Hen alwad gen i erbyn hyn, ond mae’r canlyniadau diwedderaraf a llwyddiant y Dde yn arbennig yn profi’r angen am gydweithio ar y Chwith. Pe bae’r Gwyrddion yng Nghymru wedi cytuno i’n galwad ni am restr ar y cyd i’r Etholiadau yma mae’n siwr gen i y byddwn wedi dod yn gyntaf a, gyda phum mil ychwanegol o bleidleisiau, wedi llwyddo i guro UKIP gan roi i’r Gwyrddion Cymreig eu Haelod cyntaf yn Ewrop. Mae’r un peth yn wir am Mebyon Kernow a’r Gwyrddion yn Ne-Orllewin Lloegr fyddai wedi ennill sedd oddi wrth y Toriaid wrth sefyll ar y cyd. A’r Dde ar garlam, nawr yw’r amser i greu clymblaid enfys go iawn i ennill nid yn unig yn Ewrop ym 2014, ond yn bwysicach fyth, yng Nghymru 2011.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Despite the rise in Plaid’s support and our success in our strongholds, the villainy that British nationalist parties have done nearly as well as the Welsh National Party in the European elections still worries me. Hopefully this will prick the conscience every lover of our nation who stayed at home, but I have the responsibility of asking what can be done better or differently. In the old traditions of threes, here are three suggestions.

    We must stop apologising for our nationalism. In a world of globalisation, identity politics and the alternative of re-rooting political power in local and national communities is central to our era. This, in part, is the root of the British Right’s growth: genuine concern about unaccountable power, in undemocratic European institutions or bodies exploiting cheap labour.

    Our responsibility and our opportunity as Welsh nationalists is to show that there is alternative option to the British identifying, racist BNP (who would send Colin Jackson ‘home’, but not the Mongomeryshire immigrant, Gauleiter Griffin) and the anti-Welsh UKIP (who would abolish the Assembly as well as any level of bilingualism). This means improving our ability to produce simple, gripping messages: UKIP’s message, and the BNP’s, no matter how perverted, is easy to remember and direct. We have to create an inclusive Welsh nationalist message that has the same emotional force.

    Secondly, we have to target the working classes who have been betrayed by New Labour and who are now looking for a new political home. Except for the Valleys, Plaid has been the party of middle-class Welsh speakers for a large part of its existence. When my family joined Plaid during the Miners’ Strike, it was a bit of a shock to the party’s local culture. Within a few months, the branch split in two: one meeting in the Miners’ Welfare Hall and the other in the old Ammanford Colliery Company manager’s house that was now the Wernoleu’s country club. Plaid and Ammanford have been on a political journey since those days – but if we are to achieve our potential as we are in Carmarthenshire and in the old quarry areas, we have to become not only a Party of Wales, but a party for all ordinary people across Wales.

    Finally, we must form alliances. It’s an old call of mine by now, but recent results and the success of the Right especially prove the need for co-operation on the Left. If the Greens in Wales had agreed to our call for a joint list for these elections I’m sure we’d have come first and, with five thousand extra votes, succeeded in beating UKIP and given the Welsh Greens their first member in Europe. The same is true of Mebyon Kernow and the Greens in South-West England who would have won a seat from the Tories by standing together. With the Right on the rise, now is the time to create a real rainbow coalition to win not only in Europe in 2014, but more importantly, in Wales 2011.

    AUDIO:Simon Butler on Population Control in Response to Climate Change

    Recently a discussion has surfaced about whether population control schemes could feature in the policy aims of the Australian Climate Change movement.

    Simon Butler is an analyst and contributor to Green Left Weekly who argues that the proponents of population control schemes completely miss the underlying causes of climate change.

    Julia started by asking Simon about the history of such schemes and the lessons we can learn about their previous implementations.

    This talk was broadcast on Radio Adelaide on the 10th of June.


    Thursday, 2 July 2009

    New Party Projects and Greens and Qld Privatisation

    By Dave Riley, over at Left Click Blog

    If you check out the video of the Socialist Alliance organised public forum here on the Qld privatisation , Drew Hutton's argument for the Green's -- and he was in fact the only Greens member I know was there in a gathering of 70 -- engagement with the campaign was very much to the point.That the crime is that there are no Greens in the Qld Parliament.

    While the Greens here aren't so sparky anyway what concerns me is that Drew may not be able to deliver labour to enrich the community campaign.

    This was different in NSW I gather but here that's a problem for the rest of us.

    And that's important I think when we pick through the various examples of alternative partying -- that at least in Qld -- without a Greens member on the parly benches there's not much substance to what the Greens can do as a party (although individual Greens do stuff of course)

    And as we negotiate our way through the terrors of climate change I think there's a real challenge for the greens project internationally to deliver more than what they have so far.

    In that sense I miss the ideological engagement that existed in their milieu in the nineties and this in stead has defaulted to a sort of argument which runs: "Look at the polls. We're the only real alternative to Labor because that's what the polls say."

    And many on the left have played up to that in a sort of depressed state of resignation.

    The complication is, as we saw, that in the lead up to the last federal elections, the ACTU et al allowed their ranks to vote Greens (and SA etc for that matter)but this hasn't been followed up by a stronger class allegiance by the Greens. 18 months on The Greens are way away from any campaign orientation to key working class and trade union issues,.. They voted for Gillard ABCC Lite of course...but I didn't see the Greens actually challenging the ABCC in real street or on the grass time.

    What is at stake however, I guess, is the possibility of some trade union forays into trade union election campaign mode with Trade Union candidates but with perhaps sharp preference flows. In a sense this was the template offered by No2EU and Arthur Scargill.

    When you look at it there's precious little room left for the trade unions to manoevre and for example , here the ETU has left the ALP Left but not the ALP and they are getting abused up hill and down dale while the left that rolled over for Bligh tries to cover its dirty deeds.

    In contrast, the meeting last Tuesday was a showcase of unity. Amazing it was. Everyone was saying in effect the same thing: ETU, SA, David Matters, the Greens...and when the audience started up the only argument the far left groupuscules offered were complaints about no strike being a spontaneous response.

    But you see, that's all they were: complaints. Where's the DIY?

    Its' in situations like this you realize how friggin marginal the socialist left(and Greens too) is because while some 84% of Qlders are on side our resources have to be more than a few selected complaints or abstract options.

    You also realize that even the ETU is isolated -- cynically and brutally isolated by the Laborist gang -- and that despite that, we're all in this fight together. And the ETU has stood its ground! Amazingly it has not relented on its commitment to fight these sells offs.

    As for the ALP ranks -- "not happy Anna!". So there are wild cards perhaps. As for any everyday passer by -- I've heard it, and the state government is abused and maligned in terms that to my sweet ears are shocking.

    Solidarity Committee with the Iranian People - Sydney

    There is a new Iranian coalition in Sydney which is organising protests while the emergency is on in their country.

    Today, they issued the following statement:

    Defending the Democratic Rights of the Iranian People!

    The past 30 years of dictatorship in Iran, has been accompanied by executions, torture, censorship and suppression of fundamental Human Rights for Iranian citizens.

    In recent weeks, we have once again witnessed the ongoing violation of these democratic rights as Iranian citizens peacefully protested again the outcome of a fraudulent presidential election.

    We have witnessed people protesting on the streets of Iran against this undemocratic regime demanding their basic human rights, freedom and democracy.

    But, from the first day of protests, military forces together with the Basijis and government-supported militia have suppressed the cry for freedom and have killed hundreds.

    Murder along with individual and group arrests are spreading across Iranian cities especially in Tehran which is now a military barrack.

    The lives of innocent people are at risk.

    Additionally, there have been harsh attacks against newspaper reporters and broadcasters.

    Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader and the illegal government of Ahmadinejad are continuing their attacks and have labeled the uprisings on anti-revolutionaries or agents of foreign countries.

    Hour after hour, we continue to receive horrific news from eyewitnesses on the ground and through their video recordings.

    The world has witnessed this injustice and human disaster.

    The Solidarity Committee with the Iranian People in Sydney ask the Australian Government to declare this human disaster illegal and expect your solidarity and cooperation of all the human rights organizations and freedom-loving People of Australia with the oppressed people of Iran.

    We are demanding:

    1) Prevention of the violent attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Iran.

    2) Ending the arbitrary arrests of opponents, students and protesters and the immediate and unconditional release of all the detainees.
    3) Removing the control of military forces over hospitals and medical centres to afford the possibility for the injured to get treated.
    4) Unconditional freedom for media and news agencies to inform the public.
    5) Ending the military occupation of Teheran and other cities in Iran.

    Peace, Freedom and a bright future are universal rights of all People but the Iranians are struggling for their freedom in fire and blood!

    Victory and dignity!

    Freedom and democracy for people of the world and Iran!

    In solidarity with those who lost their lives and the injured!

    Solidarity Committee with the Iranian People - Sydney


    Every Woman, Every Choice

    National Day of Action, Saturday, 4 July 2009
    Organised by the Maternity Coalition

    Saturday 4 July will the mark our first National Day of Action for birth reform. It is a day to celebrate progress, and to acknowledge the positive changes Nicola Roxon has announced, but also an opportunity to let the Government know that we will not stop until every woman in Australia is empowered to make informed birthing choices.

    Here are the events planned so far – there are more to come! Check this page for further updates, or go to Facebook page:

      Byron Bay – 11am, meet in car park off Lawson St (behind the Hogs Breath Cafe). We will walk down Jonson Street with The Amazing Mullumboombas to Railway Park for performances by local musicians, face painting, sausage sizzle and stall. Contact: Vicki McAlistair

      Brisbane - 10am-midday, Bardon Hall, 247 Simpsons Rd, Bardon. Bring a plate for morning tea. If you have any inspirational images or anything that celebrates your positive experience that you'd like to share, bring along. Contact: Sara Nest

      Goodwood - Homebirth SA are hosting a Morning Tea for Birth Reform, 10am til 12pm, Friday 3 July, Goodwood Community Centre, 32 Rosa Street Goodwood. All are welcome to attend this child-friendly morning. Please bring $2.50 per adult to cover hall hire costs & a plate of morning tea if time and funds permit.

    Wagga Wagga – 2-4 pm, North Wagga Community Hall, Hamden Ave, North Wagga. Contact: Bernadette Anderson

    Stanthorpe - 9am -1pm. The Piazza, in the main street of Stanthorpe town. Petition for people to sign. Contact: Alison Gaffney

    Ipswich – 9.45am for a 10am photoshoot at the Rotunda in Queens Park, Ipswich. We will string a line of nappies with our messages and photos on between trees on on the Rotunda. We need lots of local midwives, mums and babies to come along with placards and nappies. Morning tea in the park afterwards.. Contact: Cas McCullough

    Mackay – 11am, Jubilee Park, Mackay. Contact: Diane Longworth

    Illawarra - 10.30am. Botanic Gardens Wollongong, next to the Play Ground - parking off Murphys Avenue. Please bring morning tea. Contact: or 0424 051 246

    Darwin - 'Ride for Reform'. Bike ride to support the National Day of Action and highlight the local and national issues affecting pregnant and birthing women throughout the Territory. Start Palmerston 7am, finish with morning tea at the Esplanade (opposite Novotel Darwin) at 10am. Please bring a plate to share. Details of the planned route available at <> by Tuesday 30 June or email Kylie

    Gold Coast - 10 a.m. Pratten Park, Old Burleigh Road, Broadbeach. Meet near the playground just north of the Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club. There is parking in the Oasis Shopping Centre (free for the first 3hrs). Bring a plate of morning tea. If you have any inspirational images or anything that celebrates your positive experience that you'd like to share, bring it along! Contact: Janice or Renee Facebook page:

    Toowoomba - **Note - Toowoomba's event is on THURSDAY 2ND JULY,10am, Rosebank Cottage, Newtown Park. A sharing circle will be facilitated to discuss what women’s perception of the MBS and PBS and also lack of indemnity for homebirth midwives. Contact: Jessica Krop

    Geelong - 10am -12noon, gathering in Johnstons Park, Geelong (wet weather venue is Courthouse Youth Arts Centre - Magistrates theatre, a short walk away on the corner of Little Malop and Gheringhap Street). Family friendly picnic. Contact: Melissa McFarlane 0423 155 460 or

    Central Coast – 10am -12pm. Morning tea in the park. The Liberty Playground, Saltwater Creek Reserve, The Central Coast Highway, Long Jetty. Please bring a plate to share for morning tea. Consider wearing Maternity Coalition colours (purple & green). Contact: Anne Maggs 02 4334 5154

    Organise a National Day of Action event in your town. We need events in every state to show that this matters to women across the country from Broome to Hobart and from Torres Strait to Adelaide. The more events we have, the greater the media and political impact. Here are some ideas to get you going:
    • A peaceful walk down your main street (please check - you may have to get your council’s approval for this)
    • A morning tea in the local park
    • Organise a cake for your local midwives and celebrate with them
    • Hire a community hall/church

    Events can show support for reforms so far ...
    • Recognition of private practice midwives across the country
    • Funding for continuity of care from a known midwife
    • Assistance for midwives to access indemnity insurance

    ... and demonstrate:
    • Women should have a right to choice over the full spectrum of birthing choices, including homebirth: “Every woman, every choice”
    • Continued support for further reform in maternity services in Australia, including supporting a woman’s right to choose her place of birth including at home and, for indigenous women, on country
    • The needs of women and communities must come before administrative convenience of a National Registration Scheme
    • Women and babies will be put at risk because it will be illegal for midwives to practise homebirth
    • Making homebirth illegal will increase birth without professional maternity care and drive homebirth underground
    • Acknowledge many birth support groups and individuals have contributed in working towards this goal

    Planning for the day:
    • Plan to hold your event in the morning as you are more likely to attract media at this time of day.
    • Choose a venue that is child-friendly and maybe rain/weather-proof if possible.
    • Contact local media to let them know of the event and send them our press release (we will send you a template of a press release which you can localise).
    • Fill in an event plan ASAP and email it back to This needs to be done for insurance purposes and also so we can get your local event onto our website and the national media release.
    • Send out invitations to your networks, the local hospital, local consumer groups such as playgroups, homebirth groups, indigenous groups, ABA and Childbirth Educators. Also child health clinics, midwives in private practice and other health practitioners.
    • Invite people who may no longer be active in the campaign but have contributed to its success over the last decade.
    • Invite both State and Federal MPs and Senators in your area - see
    • Everyone wearing the same coloured shirts with slogans printed on the front
    • Purple and green helium balloons (MC Colours)
    • Banners and signs – a white background looks best
    • A big celebratory cake to share
    • Lots of family (mums, dads, grandparents, children), several generations always looks good!
    • Take your MC banner, our leaflets and copies of Birth Matters.
    • Have some women invite their midwife and have them prepared to share their birth stories focussing on what their midwife meant to them.
    • Have women prepared to talk who can’t invite their midwife because they don’t know who they are, but still feel that their midwife’s work was paramount to their overall birth.
    • Try to put together some history of the work that has been done in your area. Include old newspaper clippings and photographs. This could be done through the use of posters or a slideshow.
    • Recreate events that had a big impact in your area ie. rallies from yesteryear – maybe the use of a birth pool to create media attention.
    • Recognise those who have given a long term contribution to the campaign.

    Possible slogans for your signs:
    • Midwives for Me
    • How about Homebirth?
    • Every woman, Every Choice
    • We’ve only just begun, there’s more reform to come!
    • My birth, my body, my choice.
    • Homebirth’s a choice not a crime.

    Green Left Weekly turns 800!

    Australia's premier left-wing, environmental and social justice newspaper, Green Left Weekly, recently published its 800th issue.

    Green Left received numerous birthday greetings from activist, authors, and supporters around the country and around the world - from renowned author and linguist Noam Chomsky and infamous journalist John Pilger to US-Venezuelan author and activist Eva Golinger and NSW Greens MLC Sylvia Hale; from comedian Rod Quantock, solidarity activist and economist Tim Anderson and MUA WA secretary Chris Cain to musician David Rovics, SKA TV manager Debra Weddall and Labour Party Pakistan spokesperson Farooq Tariq.

    To read the full list of greetings, visit the Green Left site.

    Happy Birthday Green Left Weekly!

    From all your favourite cantankerous marsupials of the Revolutionary Wombats Association.

    Solidarity with Iranian workers and the democratic movement

    Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with the millions of Iranians who are bravely demanding their rights in the streets despite huge state-sanctioned repression. These are the biggest protests in Iran since the 1979 protests in which the US-backed Shah was deposed.

    Millions of people, old and young, ethnic and religious minorities, have taken to the streets, day in and day out since the disputed election on June 12. They have bravely defied the repressive regime of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to demand the most basic of rights: the right to freely and transparently elect their representatives.

    Some 27 people, including a young woman Neda Agha-Soltan whose death was captured on video, have been killed in the crackdown on protests. Several hundred have been injured, and a leading student activist is in a coma. Government officials on June 24 announced that there had been a total of 645 arrests in Tehran since June 13, 2009. Activists say that several hundred more, including journalists, editors, students, professors, party officials and unionists have also disappeared.

    Iran’s unelected Guardian Council, while admitting electoral irregularities, has ruled out a recount or a fresh election.

    The regime’s response is no surprise: it uses its repressive apparatus – including the National Guard and the Basiji – to violently repress trade unions, curb the rights of women, gays and lesbians, national minorities and other oppressed sectors.

    What started as a protest in support of opposition candidate and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who claims to have been defrauded, has become a rallying point for Iranians from many sectors fed up with their lack of rights.

    On June 20, the Autobus Workers Union of Iran (Sendikaye Sherkat Vahed) declared its support for the protests and protestors, and condemned the state-sponsored repression.

    “Iranian society is facing a deep political and economic crisis”, the union, many of whose leaders have been imprisoned and disappeared, said. “Million-strong protests, which have manifested themselves with a silence that is replete with meaning, have become a pattern that is growing in area and dimension, a growth that demands a response from any responsible person and organization.”

    The union demanded that workers’ and democratic rights, in particular the freedom to organise and the freedom to elect, to be respected, or “any talk of social freedom and labor union rights will be a farce”.

    The autoworkers union has also joined the protestors.

    Socialist Alliance salutes those millions of Iranians who are determined not to let this latest attack on democratic freedoms pass by.

    The Iranian people are reminding the world that their struggle for democracy and rights, is not over. Since the nationalist uprisings in the 19^th century against British and Russian imperialism, to the British and US-backed coup against the democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953, to the decades long US-imposed sanctions, the people of Iran have battled imperialist meddling and support for despotic rulers.

    The apparent split in the Islamic ruling elite may assist the Iranian people in this struggle – and our international solidarity will also be a critical factor.

    To that end, we commit our support the Iranian community in Australia in their efforts to organise international solidarity.

    Socialist Alliance believes that resolving the crisis is the right and responsibility of the Iranian people alone. External economic and military interference can play no positive role, as has been clearly shown throughout Iran’s history and the US-led interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its support for Israeli aggression against Palestine and the region.

    But the Australian government can and must take a stand in support of democracy in Iran by:

  • condemning the Iranian regime’s repression of the protests
  • demanding the release of all political prisoners, including union leaders and activists
  • demanding the regime sends the Iranian National Guard back to barracks and de-commissions the Basiji shock troops
  • opposing Western intervention, on any pretext, and to demand the US lifts the sanctions on Iran
  • demanding that the regime listens to the movement on the streets which, among other calls, is demanding fresh elections
  • Restore democracy in Honduras!

    For more news on the situation in Honduras, visit

    A statement from the Socialist Alliance, Australia, July 2, 2009

    The Socialist Alliance strongly condemns the June 28 coup d’etat by the military, members of the oligarchy and their political agents in Honduras. The violent kidnapping and expulsion to Costa Rica of democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya Rosales is an attempt to deny the people of Honduras their fundamental human rights to determine their own government and political future.

    The coup took place as millions of Hondurans were preparing to exercise their right to vote for the first time in a consultative referendum on the future convening of a constitutional assembly to reform Honduras’ constitution. The Zelaya government’s proposal to draft a new constitution is the culmination of other measures under his presidency that have come under attack by conservative forces, including a significant raise in the minimum wage, measures to re-nationalise energy generation plants and telecommunications, signing a bill to greatly improve labour conditions for teachers, joining the Venezuelan Petrocaribe program, and delaying recognition of the new United States ambassador after the Bolivian government implicated the US embassy in supporting paramilitary groups destabilising Bolivia.

    The Socialist Alliance also condemns the June 28 assassination by the armed forces of Honduran congressperson Cesar Ham, the organiser of the consultative referendum on a new constitution, and the abduction of Honduran foreign minister Patricia Rodas. The assault and attempted kidnapping on the Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan ambassadors in Honduras, who were trying to protect Rodas was a direct attack on the Bolivarian movement for unity and progressive change in Latin America.

    The Socialist Alliance is very concerned for the safety of the human rights organisations that have supported the president and the efforts for constitutional reform. Reports of the military pursuing civil society leaders in the street and of leaders of the National Council of Indigenous Peoples being forced into hiding must be responded to be all who support freedom.

    We applaud and stand in solidarity with the thousands of brave Hondurans who have mobilised to defend democracy by demonstrating in the streets and attempting to exercise their right to participate in the referendum despite intimidation and assault by the armed forces. We also solidarise with the Honduran trade unions and social movements calling for a general strike in support of their ousted president.

    The Socialist Alliance congratulates the nine governments of ALBA, the Organization of American States, and the UN General Assembly president Miguel D’Escoto for their immediate condemnation of the coup and support for Zelaya as the only legitimate president of Honduras. We note that the European Union and numerous governments have condemned the coup, and call on the Australian government to:

  • Refuse to recognise the Congressional appointed ‘de facto’ government of Roberto Michelletti;
  • Demand the immediate, safe return of the President Zelaya and foreign minister Rodas, and the reconstitution of the elected government;
  • Demand the immediate release of all political and social movement organisation leaders who have been detained by the military;
  • Insist on respect for the safety and human rights of all Hondurans; and
  • Support calls from the Honduran people for the coup leaders to be arrested and tried for their crimes.
  • We pledge the Socialist Alliance’s active solidarity with the Honduran people’s fight for democracy and justice, and will continue to protest until the coup is overturned and democratic rights are reinstalled in Honduras.

    For further information: Lisa Macdonald 0413 031 108