Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gaza commemoration 27 Dec 09

War on GAZA - 1st anniverary

On 27 December 2008, without warning, Israeli forces began a devastating bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip codenamed "Cast Lead". By 18 January 2009, some 1400 Palestinians had been killed and large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground.

Join us in a mock funeral procession to mourn the victims of the Gaza massacre by wearing as much black as possible!

Sunday 27 December 2009
12 noon, Wesley Church (cnr Hay & William Sts)

For info: or 0407 350 962

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

GLW end of year celebration

Green Left Weekly end-of-year celebration:

After the Walk Against Warming...

Retire to the cool, friendly Activist Centre to share a toast to the struggles of 2009 and a determination to push for further progressive victories on the road ahead.

Food and refreshments available.

We will also draw the Green Left Weekly raffle!

3pm, Sat 12 December
Perth Activist Centre, 15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver Station)


This coming Saturday is the big Walk Against Warming march – part of on an international day of action timed to coincide with the Copenhagen climate summit.

Green Left Weekly and Socialist Alliance will be participating in the march as part of the “Climate emergency bloc”. This bloc will be saying “set the targets the planet needs” such as:
  • Climate justice for the third world
  • No emissions trading
  • Phase out Coal
  • 100% renewables by 2020
We will also be campaigning to spread the message that we need a people’s power movement to ensure that the changes we need happen.

We need your help!
Can you help by:
  • Distributing Green Left on the day?
  • Handing out leaflets?
  • Holding a banner or placard?
If so, please phone Alex on 9218 9608 or 0413 976 638 to volunteer. Your help will make a difference!

The Walk begins 11am. We will meet at PICA (Northbridge Cultural Centre) from 10am.

Yours in solidarity

Alex Bainbridge
Socialist Alliance
0413 976 638

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cuba: Sustainability & Socialism - Resistance forum Wed 9 Dec

     According to the World Wildlife Fund the only nation in the world to have attained sustainable           development is Socialist Cuba. Come find out both some of the measures that Cuba has used to         become environmentally responsible, and the structures and political institutions that made this         possible.

       As the world faces catastrophic climate change, there has never been a more important time for        us to learn from the worlds best green example, so we can learn the lessons from Cuba's                     experiance and reproduce them to create a sustainable Australia.

 Wednesday 9th Dec, 6:00 pm, 15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth.
 (Near Mc Iver Station).

 Call Ben: 0400878322 for more details.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Darlington Review column: Let the Polluters Pay!

Arguments in mainstream Australian politics around climate change are increasingly narrow.

Neither major party is prepared to force the big profiteering polluters to pay for the transition to sustainability.  They are both focused on making ordinary people carry the burden, while subsidising the polluters.

Both parties are hoping that a conservative, hip-pocket-nerve backlash from suburbanites like Darlington residents might allow them to go even softer on dealing with the climate emergency.

Added to this is a trend towards nationalism, xenophobia and racism among climate sceptics.  Talk about refugees is intruding into discussions of climate change and assertions that China is responsible for the carbon crisis.

Both arguments are specious.  There is no national solution for climate change; it is international.  And people who are worried about refugees had better get used to them; climate change will create millions more.

Australians rank with Americans as the highest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide (about 20 tonnes per year).  China’s carbon emissions per head are 5.8 tonnes but are increasing, doubling since 2001 due to expanding coal-fired power. 

This is directly linked to the behaviour of Western companies in China.

“China-fication”, a term coined by US business magazine Industry Week, is the “transplanting to China what you do well in manufacturing in the West, while exploiting the unique competitive aspects of the Chinese market.”

China’s “unique aspects” are dirt cheap wages and a dirty environment.

US environmental scientist Gregg Marland, who has studied Chinese carbon emissions, says: “We’re shipping our emissions offshore.”

The people responsible for wrecking the planet are the same whichever country they are operating in – the rich and powerful, interested in making money from polluting industries.  Those who suffer are the poorest.

In Australia, producing a safe environment also involves fighting racism and xenophobia.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Human Rights Day rally: Sat 5 Dec - Asylum is a Human Right

On the eve of Human Rights Day, tell Kevin Rudd:


* Let the refugees in
* End ties with repressive regimes: Sri Lanka & Israel
* Bring the troops home from Afghanistan


Sat 5 Dec
Gather: 12:30pm, Wesley Church (cnr Hay & William Sts)
March: through the city

Australian Tamil Congress: 0419 942 613
Alex Bainbridge: 0413 976 638
Phil Chilton: 0417 904 329
Victoria Martin-Iverson: 0410 589 064

Asylum is a human right - let the refugees in!
In August 2001, John Howard turned back the Tampa, with 453 rescued asylum seekers on board. Declaring them 'illegal', these asylum seekers - most of whom had fled persecution in Iraq and Afghanistan - were the first casualties of Howard's 'Pacific Solution'. Hundreds more asylum seekers languished in detention centres on the Australian mainland.

Re-enacting Howard's inhumane policy, Kevin Rudd last month turned back the Australian customs ship, the Oceanic Viking, with rescued 78 Tamil asylum seekers on board. Declaring that these asylum seekers too were 'illegal', Rudd announced that their applications for asylum should be processed in Indonesia, despite the fact that Indonesia has no obligation to do so, never having signed The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. 

 In the first half of this year, Australia accepted only 1% of all global asylum seeker applications. Since the turning back of the Tampa, in 2001, the numbers of refugees being accepted by Australia has declined as a proportion of Australia's overall migration intake.

We demand that the Rudd government allow entry to Australia by all those seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive, and that the policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers be ended once and for all.

End ties with repressive regimes: Israel & Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka today, some 300,000 Tamils are being kept in military-run internment camps with no access to the outside world. Killings, abductions, torture and rape are rife; but not a word of criticism has been uttered by the Australian government. In just four months this year, 20-50,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil people. Discrimination against Tamils and the 'disappearances' of journalists and human rights activists, including from among the majority Sinhalese community, are standard practice of the Sri Lankan regime.

Israel's recent bloody assault on Gaza resulted in the deaths of 1400 people. It maintains a crippling economic blockade. This is just the most recent episode in the Apartheid-like campaign of occupation and dispossession against the Palestinian people.

In place of self-interested commercial and geo-political considerations, Australia's foreign policy must be governed by a commitment to human rights and global justice. Australia must condemn the wars against the Tamils and Palestinians and end ties with the repressive regimes in Sri Lanka and Israel. Further we must support full self-determination for Sri Lanka's Tamils; and the complete withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories and the dismantling of all anti-Palestinian discriminatory policies within Israel itself.

Bring the troops home from Afghanistan
The recent fraudulent elections in Afghanistan expose the fact that the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai supported by the US, NATO and Australia has no legitimacy or popular support. Eight years of occupation have resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, expansion of the war into Pakistan, growth of support for the Taliban and continued rule by warlords. The occupation is the cause of the problem, not part of the solution. Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama want to expand the war. Demand an end to the war. Bring the troops home.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Green Left Weekly solidarity dinner

Green Left Weekly


Dave Kerin
(CFMEU mining & energy division organiser; founder of Union Solidarity; and environmental activist)

Sam Wainwright 
(newly elected Socialist Alliance member of the Fremantle Council; and MUA member)

7pm, Sat 28 Nov
State School Teachers Union Function Room
150-152 Adelaide Terrace, Perth
$20 unwaged/$30 waged/$50 solidarity

Proceeds to Green Left Weekly

Darlington Review column: Is Nuclear Power the solution to climate change?

Darlington residents on October 24 helped show the world that ordinary people want the current political inaction on global warming to end.

Unfortunately, there are forces at work in Australia seeking to stampede us towards nuclear power, a radioactive response to our outmoded coal-burning stations.
Nuclear industry executives see a business opportunity to arrest their declining fortunes. Supporters of radioactive electricity concurrently run two false arguments: renewable energy can’t do the job and nuclear reactors are clean, safe and climate-friendly. 

However, there is enough wave energy along WA's coastline (from Geraldton to Bremer Bay) to provide more than 5 times WA's current electrical energy demand.  Carnegie Wave Energy Ltd has just moved past the feasibility testing stage into electricity production at its site near Fremantle.  The Department of Defence is contracting it to provide power to Garden Island naval base and Exmouth.

Far from a greenhouse gas solution, nuclear energy is emission-intensive.  Except for the power generation itself, every stage in the nuclear-power cycle — uranium mining, ore processing, refining, transport, construction and maintenance — churns out carbon dioxide. 

Radioactive mine tailings and reactor waste can’t be safely disposed of. The wastage of water in uranium mining and nuclear power stations makes them unsuitable for Australia.

If wind, wave or solar power generators break down, they just need fixing. But the 1986 Chernobyl accident shows the risks of nuclear reactors.

Darlington householders are ahead of the WA government in harnessing solar energy by putting panels on our rooftops.

We have to combine that example with pressure on the government to switch to renewables as fast as possible.  Solar, wind, geo-thermal and other renewables are the real solutions we need.
For an informative debate between environmentalists on the topic go to

Contact Annolies/Barry on 9299 6453 or

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Let the refugees in: Protest Mon 9 Nov

Protest for Refugee Rights:
12:30pm, Mon 9 Nov
Office of Chris Evans (Immigration Minister)
51 Ord St, West Perth

(This action has been organised by the newly reformed Refugee Rights Action Network. Next meeting: 6.30pm, Mon 9 Nov, Moon Cafe, cnr William & Newcastle Sts, Northbridge.)

Another important rally for Refugee Rights will take place:
12:30pm, Sat 5 Dec
Wesley Church
cnr William & Hay Sts, Perth
(This action has been organised by a coalition of groups involving Perth Tamil community representatives. Next meeting: 6pm, Wed 11 Nov, Perth Activist Centre.)

See the statement on this issue by regional left groups below.

See also these related links

Regional left groups statement on Tamil refugees

Respect human rights - free the refugees!

Reject Australia's 'Indonesian solution'!
Australia should welcome the asylum seekers!

A joint statement of:
November 5, 2009
All respect for elementary human rights and dignity has been thrown overboard as the governments of Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia refuse to accept the latest wave of Tamil asylum seekers fleeing war and oppression in Sri Lanka and instead treat them like criminals.
The Australian government is the only of these three governments to have signed the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees but it is refusing to carry out its obligations to asylum seekers under that convention.
For weeks, more than 250 Tamil-speaking people, including children, remain in dire conditions on a boat in Merak, Indonesia. Another 78 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, including children, remain on the Australian customs ship Oceanic Viking off Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia. Both groups are refusing to leave their boats for fear that Indonesia will lock them up in detention centres with a reputation for brutality and/or send them back to an uncertain future in Sri Lanka. On November 1, it was reported that a boat of asylum seekers had sunk near the Cocos Islands, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, and 12 are missing feared drowned.
Meanwhile, 207 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers are being held at the Immigration Detention Centre at Kuala Lumpar International Airport, and 108 Sri Lankan refugees are being detained at Pekan Nanas Immigration Detention Centre in Johor, Malaysia. Malaysia is both a transit point and a country of permanent asylum for tens of thousands of refugees from countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claims its policy is "humane" but "tough". It is neither. The Rudd Labor government of Australia is bribing the Indonesian government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intercept the boats of asylum seekers on their way to Australia. This "Indonesian solution" out-sources Australia's obligation to asylum seekers to Indonesia just as its predecessor did to Nauru and PNG in the name of a "Pacific solution".
Many of those seeking asylum in Australia come from Sri Lanka where the Tamils have suffered from decades of brutal oppression at the hands of various Sinhala national chauvinist governments. The government of Mahinda Rajapaksa unleashed an all-out terror campaign this year, killing some 20,000 Tamil people in the month of May. Since the end of the military offensive, more than 300,000 Tamil people have been imprisoned in concentration-style camps and denied the right to return to their homes. It is estimated that 31,000 children are among those incarcerated, without proper access to shelter, food and medicine.
The Australian government, like many governments in the West and across Asia, supported the Rajapaksa regime throughout its final onslaught, preferring to maintain trade links - including selling arms - rather than stop the Tamil minority from being massacred.

We condemn the Australian, Indonesian and Malaysian governments for their lack of commitment to the humanitarian problems faced by the refugees and we demand:
  • That the governments of our countries withdraw financial and diplomatic support from the Sri Lankan government until it closes the concentration camps, and allows the Tamils trapped in camps to go back to their homes without fear of persecution.
  • That no refugee fleeing war and persecution should be forced to return to the country they fled.
  • That Australia, as a wealthy and developed country which has exploited its poorer neighbours, should immediately develop a program to settle tens of thousands of asylum seekers and take a leading role in helping reduce the misery of the world’s millions of refugees, most of whom are trying to survive in desperate conditions in refugee camps in some of the world's poorest countries.
  • That Australia allow the asylum seekers trapped in Indonesia to come to Australia to have their claims heard and we condemn the Indonesian government for being a puppet for the Australian government in preventing refugees from going to Australia. This cooperation between these two governments is a threat not only to the Tamil refugees but to human rights in the region.
  • That Australia must immediately close the Christmas Island refugee prison, and allow those asylum seekers to live in freedom in Australia while their claims are processed.
  • That the Indonesian, Malaysian and Australian governments respect the human rights of the refugees, give protection, humanitarian aid and accommodation to the refugees as long as they are in Indonesian territory and place no limitation for their rights to seek asylum.
  • That the Malaysian and Indonesian governments sign the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, release the asylum seekers they have in detention and allow them full access to UNHCR and human rights groups.

We appeal to all democratic and progressive people in Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, trade unions, human rights organisations and women’s rights organisations to understand the plight of the asylum seekers and to support our demands.
[If your organisation would like to add its name to this statement, please write to Socialist Alliance at]

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Socialist Allilance 7th national conference January 2010

Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century:
 Towards Sustainability, Justice and People’s Power
Socialist Alliance 7th National Conference
Sydney, January 2-5, 2010
Women’s College, University of Sydney

Sponsored by Green Left Weekly


7.30pm  Their Crises, Our Solutions. Public meeting to launch the conference

9am Welcome to country
9.15am The Socialist Alliance’s perspectives for struggle in 2010 (panel of speakers and discussion)
10.30am Socialist election strategy and tactics: preparing for the next federal election (panel of speakers and discussion)

12.15pm Building the climate action movement (panel of speakers and discussion)
2.45pm The struggle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights (panel of speakers and discussion)
4pm Multiple workshops to plan campaigning on: climate change, Aboriginal rights, same-sex marriage rights, anti-war and Latin America solidarity

7.30pm Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund rally. An evening of speakers, music and multi-media presentations to launch the 2010 fighting fund for Australia’s # 1 alternative newspaper.

9am Rebuilding the trade unions for the fights ahead (panel of speakers and discussion)
10.15am Building the socialist movement among young people (panel of speakers and discussion)
11.30am Refugee rights and internationalism (panel of speakers and discussion)

12.15pm The Latin American revolutions and solidarity (panel of speakers and discussion)
2pm Campaigning for environmental sustainability (panel of speakers and discussion)
2-4pm Challenges of building a radical alternative to Labor 1 (concurrent educational workshop)
3pm Getting Australia out of Afghanistan and Iraq (panel of speakers and discussion)
4pm Multiple workshops on building the Socialist Alliance and strengthening left unity, covering Green Left Weekly,  election campaigning, internet activism, etc.
4-6pm Understanding the financial and economic crisis (concurrent educational workshop)

7.30pm International Cultural Night: Performances from many lands and peoples

9am Campaigning for women’s and queer rights today (panel of speakers and discussion)
9.45am Socialist Alliance policy session 1 (discussion and voting on a range of policy proposals from members)
11.30am Taking action in 2010: discussion and voting on Socialist Alliance building resolutions
11.30am-1pm Ecology, socialism and human survival (concurrent educational workshop)

2pm Taking action in 2010: discussion and voting on Socialist Alliance resolutions on the climate movement, Latin America solidarity, anti-war, women's rights and  LGBTI rights
2-3.30pm Building the Left-Indigenous alliance (concurrent educational workshop)
3pm Socialist Alliance policy session 2 (discussion and voting on a range of policy proposals from members)
3-5pm  Challenges of building a radical alternative to Labor 2 (concurrent educational workshop)
4pm Socialist Alliance elections
All welcome

Whole conference: $60 solidarity/$50 waged/$30 unwaged
Two days: $40 solidarity/$30 waged/$15 unwaged
One day/session: $20 solidarity/$15 waged/$5 unwaged
Childcare will be available for a small fee if booked by November 30, 2009

For more information, or to register for the conference, visit, email, or phone (02) 9690 2508, or contact your local branch of the Socialist Alliance.

* Some changes will likely be made to this agenda before the conference. For the latest agenda, visit

Perth Resistance in action - campaigning for refugee rights


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Eyewitness report on revolution in Nepal Thurs 19 Nov

Eyewitness report on
Revolution in Nepal

Guest speaker:
Ben Peterson
Green Left Weekly correspondent who spent 4 months in Nepal in 2009

6.30pm, Thurs 19 November
Perth Activist Centre, 15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth

Since the 2006 overthrow of the Nepalese monarchy, a struggle has ensued over the heart and soul of the new Nepal. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) held governmental power for nine months but – having been unconstitutionally forced out of office by pro-status quo forces – are regrouping for another progressive advance. This forum will discuss the dynamics and contours of a revolution in motion.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Capitalism: a love story

Green Left Weekly presents:
Michael Moore's Capitalism: A love story

6.30pm, Thurs 5 November
Luna Cinema, Leederville
(155 Oxford Street)

Check out the preview trailer below.

Tickets: $15 or $20 solidarity
A fundraiser for Green Left Weekly

[Pre-purchase tickets essential. Phone Alex 9218 9608 or 0413 976 638 to secure your spot and to get tickets to your friends.]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reclaim the Night 30 October 2009


Reclaim the Night represents a claim for women’s basic human right to live in freedom from the fear of violence.
On Friday 30 October we protest for women to have the right to walk freely at night, free from the threat of rape and sexual violence. Gather at the Wellington St exit of Perth Train Station at 6.30pm. March starts at 7.00pm sharp, finishing at Stirling Gardens for speakers, performers and entertainers.

The oganising collective has determined that this march and rally are for women and children only. Their explanation is that "this policy was not made with the intention of excluding men, but rather to ensure the inclusion of ALL women."

To get involved contact Amanda on 0421 137 672 or email

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright elected to Fremantle Council

Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright was elected to the Fremantle Council in the October 17 poll. He is the first Socialist Alliance member to be elected to a local government position in Australia.

Wainwright polled over 33% (438 out of 1310 valid votes). His nearest competitor, an ALP member, polled 337 votes (25.7%). Under the new, undemocratic first-past-the-post local government electoral laws in WA, Wainwright was elected as the candidate with the most votes.

We believe that Wainwright is the first socialist elected to public office in WA for a long time, if not ever.

In a media statement, Wainwright said: "Most candidates for council try to appeal to the middle ground and keep their political affiliations quiet. I don’t believe in that approach. I think it’s better to be upfront about your beliefs. Throughout the campaign I emphasised that I was a staunch socialist, unionist and environmentalist."

He added, “I didn’t expect everyone to sign up to everything I stand for. But I did ask people to believe that I would be a hard working campaigner for their rights. I’m really grateful and humbled that so many people have shown their confidence in me and saw my background as a positive.”

Wainwright thanked the diverse range of people that supported his campaign, “Active support came from all sorts of places: members of Socialist Alliance, the Greens and the ALP all pitched in; many unionists and community activists helped out; and last but not least, everyday residents who don’t wear a political label but want to see the sort of change that we talked about in the campaign. The election result belongs to these people and I know that the hard work now begins.”

In the mayoral poll of six candidates, Greens member Brad Pettit triumphed with over 45% of the vote, well in front of two fellow Greens Michael Martin and Jon Strachan. Both Pettit and Strachan were endorsed by the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce.

Of the six new councillors elected there is one ALP member, two Greens, two independents and one Socialist Alliance. However under WA electoral law local government candidates can not formally run for political parties and Wainwright was the only candidate to declare his political affiliations in his campaign material.

Official election results are here.

Leave a message of congratulations:

Initial Green Left Weekly report (more next week):

Sam's media statement:

This election victory is an important milestone in the process of building a socialist alternative to capitalism. However, it is only one step. And to take more steps forward, we need more people to join up and become involved.

Join the Socialist Alliance:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friends of Palestine: Israeli Apartheid vs International Law

Israeli Apartheid v International Law

Public Forum

Tues Oct 27, 6.30pm

University of WA Social Science Lecture Theatre.

From teargas to arrest...
Perth local Sarah Haynes will share her story of defending Palestinian homes in the occupied territory. Sarah will share what she learned while working in Palestine with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions during her recent trip to the region.

For more info, contact Friends of Palestine WA:
Phone: 0407 850 962


See the Friends of Palestine Website:

New booklets on Aboriginal rights

The struggle for Aboriginal rights . . .

Resistance Books

New from Resistance Books!

The Aboriginal Struggle and the Left by Terry Townsend. 104pp, $15. Over many years, some of Indigenous Australia’s best leaders cut their political teeth within, or in close collaboration with, the Communist Party, the only party (until the late 1960s) that seriously and unfailingly fought for the rights of Indigenous people and against racism, raising virtually all the demands of the modern movement, often decades earlier.

They and many other Indigenous activists gained their political and organising experience and confidence as activists within, or working closely alongside, the left-wing and militant trade unions, most of which were led or heavily influenced by members of the CPA, sometimes in alliance with ALP socialists. This very accessible book argues convincingly that each significant gain won by the Indigenous people's rights movement has been achieved through a powerful 'black-red alliance'. (To order online see Resistance Books.)

Resistance Books

New from Socialist Alliance!

Charter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights. Socialist Alliance policy. 30pp, $3. Product of the Socialist Alliance's long-term involvement in Indigenous Australia's struggles for justice, this Charter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights is the Alliance's Indigenous policy (adopted at its Sixth National Conference in December 2008). The Charter is also a contribution from the Socialist Alliance to the vital job of building a more powerful movement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, one that can root out injustice, discrimination, poverty and underdevelopment once and for all. (To order online see Resistance Books.)

Resistance Books

Bludgers in Grass Castles Native Title and the Unpaid Debts of the Pastoral Industry by Martin Taylor. 36pp, $3.95

This powerful account shows how the pastoral industry in Queensland was built on the brutal dispossession of the Indigenous population. It is also enormously ecologically destructive, minimally productive, and is only economically viable because of large state subsidies. Essential background reading for understanding the struggle over native title today. (To order online see Resistance Books.)

Above items plus a wide range of left and progressive books, pamphlets, t-shirts, flags, badges, and stubby holders are available online at Resistance Books and at the Resistance Bookshop (see below).

Drop in to the Perth Activist Centre and talk to activists involved with Green Left Weekly, Socialist Alliance and Resistance: 15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station). Ph 9218 9608. Email:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Film screening: Rethink Afghanistan Thurs 15 Oct

Rethink Afghanistan
special preview film screening of the new film by Robert Greenwald (director of Outfoxed & Iraq for Sale)

6.30pm, Thurs 15 Oct
Perth Activist Centre
15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

Recommended donation: $8/$4

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

What cost conquest?

Review by Mat Ward
22 August 2009

Rethink Afghanistan
Directed by Robert Greenwald
DVD for sale in October, visit

Australia has 1550 soldiers in Afghanistan. It is likely to send more. Why? US director Robert Greenwald’s latest film, Rethink Afghanistan, does not say why. Instead it asks, why indeed?

With the fast-paced editing that has become Greenwald’s trademark — no shot seems to last more than 15 seconds — Rethink Afghanistan tackles aspects of the war in 10-minute segments.

Greenwald split the film into YouTube-sized chunks so people could get to see it online as soon as each segment was finished. As he told the New York Times, no distributor “moves at the speed of YouTube”.

The first 10-minute segment looks at how effective US president Barack Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan may be.

It is pointed out that half a million Soviet soldiers could not bring the country under control and Afghanistan is known as “the graveyard of empires”.

Dying To Win author Robert Pape tells the camera: “You need a ratio of something like one combat soldier for every 40 people in the country and what that equates to in Afghanistan is well over 250,000 Western combat forces.”

After Obama’s latest surge of 21,000 US soldiers, supposedly to enforce security during the August 20 election, the number of US soldiers in the country has almost doubled, to about 50,000.

The second segment looks at how Pakistan is involved in the war. Simple graphics show how nuclear-armed India, through its involvement as a US ally, has its nuclear-armed foe, Pakistan, surrounded in a pincer movement.

Overthrow author Stephen Kinzer tells the camera: “Right now Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world. Therefore it should be engraved on the minds of every American diplomat everywhere in the world: Do nothing that will further destabilise Pakistan.”

It seems we’re sitting on a nuclear time bomb.

A poll published on August 18 showed most Americans have already turned against the war. But ending the conflict may not come down to morals, motives or misgivings. It may come down only to money. That is the subject of Rethink Afghanistan’s third segment — the cost of war.

Linda J. Bilmes, co-author of The Three Trillion Dollar War, says the Afghanistan war will be far more costly than that in Iraq. “In Afghanistan you have a country which is mostly rural, which is mostly mountainous, which is not desert.”
CNN pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr says: “It now costs about $775,000 a year to put a soldier or a marine into the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. That’s about three times as expensive as any war the US has ever had.”

Then there’s the human cost. George W. Bush and Tony Blair wheeled out their wives to trumpet a victory for women when the Taliban were supposedly crushed by the US invasion after 9/11. But Rethink Afghanistan paints a different picture.

The Wall Street Journal’s Afghanistan correspondent, Anand Ghopal, tells the camera: “Many women say they wish the Taliban were back in power, because although they were also imprisoned in their houses then [as they still are now], they were at least kept safe from bombs and house raids. Most civilian casualties are women.”

Civilian casualties are the subject of Rethink Afghanistan’s fifth segment. Greenwald cut his teeth directing Hollywood stars in films with a social conscience (Martin Sheen in Shattered Spirits, about alcoholism; Farrah Fawcett in The Burning Bed, about wife-battering). He is at his most emotive when telling the stories of individuals. Here, he goes into a refugee camp in Kabul, whose mud huts and shabby tents are home to more than 235,000 Afghans.

A distraught farmer, who has been bombed off his land, points at his toddler standing shoeless in the cold, grey mud and says: “What can I do? There is no food I can put in her mouth. I have nothing. For God’s sake I am poor; otherwise I wouldn’t give her for one million. I know nobody wants to sell their daughter, but I have to.”

We learn that the child later died.

As Rethink Afghanistan unfolds on the web — segment six was released on August 18 — we may learn more about the motives for the war.

In the meantime, the theories have varied. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, who features in the film, says in his book Taliban that Afghanistan is the ultimate strategic prize: it is a way to get oil and gas from the former Soviet states north of Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea, without having to go through Iran.

Adam Curtis, in his film The Power of Nightmares, says because politicians have realised they can no longer sell idealistic dreams, they instead sell the idea that they are protecting voters from nightmares. Afghanistan, with its supposed threat of terrorists, fits that bill.

Noam Chomsky has pointed out that the US spends about the same on defence as the rest of the world put together. When recently asked about the war in Afghanistan, he said: “It’s like the old joke — if you have a hammer, everything you see is a nail.”

From: Cultural Dissent, Green Left Weekly issue #808 26 August 2009.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Protest the war in Afghanistan

Stop the War in Afghanistan

Protest speakout to mark the 8th anniversary of the invasion

Sat 10 Oct
12 noon, Wesley Church corner
(corner Hay & William Sts, Perth)

Afghanistan: Eight Years Of War — Bring The Troops Home

Socialist Alliance members will be participating in protest events - including rallies, speak-outs and marches - across the country to mark the eighth anniversary of the US-NATO war and occupation of Afghanistan. We will be joining the call on the Rudd government to withdraw the 1550 Australian troops.

The protests across Australia form part of an international month of action on Afghanistan, with rallies and protests being organised in the US, Britain and Europe.

There is consensus among the major parties - Labor and the Coalition - that Australia has to support this so-called "good war". But polls show that a majority of Australians disagree with the two parties of war. The recent election fiasco, in which the puppet president Hamid Karzai was "re-elected" by a minority, the huge number of civilian casualties, and the clear wish of democratic Afghan people, such as MP Malalai Joya, for the foreign troops to leave, have all contributed to a shift in public opinion.

There is also a growing concern that the White House will send up to 40,000 more troops to join the already 68,000 US-NATO troops already in Afghanistan. This will lead to more devastation and loss of life in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House’s quest for greater political and economic influence in the region has not wiped out al-Qaeda — the reason given for going to war. If anything it has assisted the cause of the fundamentalists, while inflicting devastating losses — both on Afghan civilians and the occupation forces.

Clearly too, the foreign troops have not curbed the influence of the Taliban. In fact the opposite has been the case, as poor farmers and others seek protection and struggle to sustain themselves and their families. The move to counter-insurgency tactics also allows the warmongers to spread by stealth into Pakistan.

The case against the war can also be made by scutinising the social indicators, all of which have worsened over the last eight years. Just 31% of households have access to water; adult literacy is just 24%, and 50% of children are malnourished. Nor have the invasion and occupation not liberated women.

The Rudd government’s commitment to the Australian-US alliance means that, if asked, it is likely to send more troops. Foreign minister Stephen Smith is studiously taking orders and avoiding a public discussion about Australia’s involvement in this war. Meanwhile, as a result of domestic pressure, several countries are talking of pulling their troops out (including Holland and Italy). The German left party, Die Linke, increased its support in recent elections after campaigning on the demand that troops be withdrawn.

The mood shift against Australia’s involvement in this war is reflected in the numbers of endorsees for the Melbourne and Sydney protest rallies. Significantly, in Melbourne, a number of unions and Victorian Trades Hall council and the Geelong Trades Hall Council have signed on, some after some debate. In NSW the Greens have also endorsed the protest.

Socialist Alliance is calling on all members and supporters to spread the word and attend these important rallies:

Sydney: October 8, 5.30pm, Sydney Town Hall;

Melbourne: October 10, 12 noon, City Square;

Perth: October 10, 12 noon Wesley Church corner;

Hobart: October 13, 5.15-6pm Newtown High School (outside Rudd community cabinet meeting).

In addition, the Socialist Alliance will continue to campaign for the Rudd government to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally withdraw all Australian troops, military personnel, bases, contractors and mercenaries from Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • End all Australian support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the ongoing siege of Gaza and the Palestinian people;
  • End Australian support for sanctions, threats of war and attacks against Iran, North Korea, Somalia or any other nation whose right to self-determination is under assault from the US. We also oppose interference in the internal affairs of these and other countries targeted by the US for political destabilisation. We condemn the Australian government for being one of only a handful not to speak out against the coup in Honduras.
  • Investigate allegations of Australian citizens being tortured in Egypt and Guantanamo. The government must repeal, not strengthen, the terror laws which unjustly target people of Middle Eastern background and rely on hearsay as evidence despite no terror acts having been committed.
  • The Socialist Alliance supports the right of all oppressed nations and peoples to self-determination, whether in the Middle East or in other parts of the world.

    Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with working people and demands that the billions spent on wars and the military be diverted into the shift to renewable sustainable energy, including retraining and the creation of masses of new green jobs, and maintaining and expanding urgently needed social programs.

    For further information on rallies:



    Contact: Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance anti-war spokesperson: 0412 139 968

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    You can help elect socialist wharfie Sam Wainwright

    Voting begins this week for the local government elections.

    Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright is campaigning for election to the Hilton ward of the Fremantle Council.

    While it is too early to say who will win the position, we have certainly run an energetic and ambitious campaign including letterboxing the ward at least three times and Sam has personally doorknocked about 80% of the ward.

    Now we'd like to ask your help in this final stage of the campaign:

    1. If you know anybody in the Fremantle Council area (and especially in the Hilton Ward) please phone or email them today to encourage them to vote for Sam and to spread the word about Sam's campaign among their friends in Hilton ward. Voting is not compulsory, so even convincing people to get out and cast any vote will also make a difference.

    2. Please consider making a donation towards the election costs. Donations can be sent to:
    Sam Wainwright
    c/- Socialist Alliance,
    PO Box 204,

    3. If you want to give any other practical help: Contact Justine Kamprad 0418 906 316.

    Please check out Sam's blog site:

    Media reports on Sam's campaign:

    Sam's election flyer:

    If you have any questions about the campaign, contact Sam Wainwright:
    Sam 0412 751 508

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Forum on human rights in Sri Lanka

    The Centre for Human Rights Education
    Curtin University

    is pleased to be supporting a free public seminar on:

    Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Catastrophe

    What is the real situation in Sri Lanka?

    How and why it is being hidden?

    What can be done about it?

    On May 19 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka declared it had won the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers). However, with the war’s end, evidence of human rights violations & war crimes is emerging. Independent media (Times- UK) recently reported deaths of 1400 civilians per week in military run camps where 300 000 war refugees (including 80 000 children) are currently being interned indefinitely. This is amidst widespread reports of mass torture (including rape & starvation) of civilians in the camps and the blockade of humanitarian relief and medical supplies by Sri Lankan Govt Forces.

    Date: Tuesday 29 September 2009

    Time: 6.30pm - 8.30pm

    Venue: Lecture Theatre 101, Building 213, Curtin University (Bentley Campus)
    RSVP: via email to as seats are limited.

    Guest Presentations By:

    Dr. John Whitehall

    Paediatrician & Associate Professor in Public Health at James Cook University, Queensland

    Dr. Whitehall has done voluntary medical work in Sri Lanka in 2004 and 2005, and in 2006 was a finalist for Senior Australian of the Year for his work raising relief funds for victims of the Asian tsunami. He is the co-author of the book War and Medicine, a collection of short stories of the experiences of medical practitioners in North-East Sri Lanka.

    Dr. Brian Senewiratne

    Consultant Physician, Queensland

    A Sinhalese Australian, Dr. Brian Senewiratne is a cousin of the former Sri Lankan president. Having witnessed the atrocities committed by members of his family, he has been an outspoken human rights activist and a key advocate for the protection of civilian rights in Sri Lanka for over the past two decades, having delivered numerous presentations at various forums including at the United Nations and also several conferences for the Prevention of Genocide. He has also been internationally recognised for his human rights work with an Educators Award from the Canadians for Genocide Education Organisation.

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Honduras: the struggle against the coup

    The struggle against the coup

    Public forum with Santiago Reyes, member of the Honduras United Left (via video link)

    6.30pm, Mon 28 Sept
    Perth Activist Centre, 15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

    After 88 days of popular protest against the June 28 military coup in Honduras, the legitimate president Manuel Zelaya announced his return to the capital from refuge in the Brazilian embassy. This audacious act sparked another wave of popular mass action for democracy and against the coup regime.

    The military responded with severe repression including a curfew (that effectively condemned 7 million people to house arrest). This repression (and the promise of Zelaya's return) only sparked the mass movement which succeeded in expelling police and soldiers from a number of parts of the country.

    The situation is unresolved but immense political pressure is building on the coup regime from within the country and internationally.

    Come and discuss the prospects of this struggle for democracy in Honduras and its implications for Latin America and the world.

    Protest calling on the Australian government to immediately condemn the repressive actions of the coup regime and demand the reinstatement of the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya.

    PROTEST Saturday September 26, 12 noon
    Outside Wesley Church

    Corner Hay & Williams Streets, Perth

    Phone 0409 762 081, 0419 812 872, 0413 976 638

    See Green Left article and other links below that:

    Honduras Updates: Street battles rage as military attacks pro-democracy uprising

    Federico Fuentes, Caracas

    September 24 — Street battles are continuing to rage late into the night of September 23 in the poor neighborhoods of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, after a day marked by a brutal military and police attack on a massive demonstration in support of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

    Zelaya, whose pro-poor policies outraged the Honduran elite and US corporations, was overthrown in a June 28 military coup and exiled to Costa Rica. On September 21, Zelaya stunned the world by announcing he had re-entered Honduras and was inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

    This announcement — after 88 straight days of resistance to the coup with strikes, protests and road blockades by the poor majority —set off a renewed wave of mobilisations across the country to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement as the legitimate president.

    As battles between unarmed protesters and heavily armed security forces raged on Honduran streets, world leaders condemned the coup regime at the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

    However, while governments from across the world called for the immediate restitution of Zelaya, US President Barack Obama managed to go through his entire speech without mentioning the word Honduras once.

    This is despite the fact that all officers in the Honduran military, which carried out the coup and was shooting live rounds at unarmed protesters as Obama spoke, are trained by the US military. This military training has not ceased since the coup.

    The presentation of the public position of his government — which is desperately seeking a way to end the anti-coup insurrection that has broken out in the impoverished Central American nation —was left to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly.

    Dirian Pereira, from the international commission of National Front of Resistance Against the Coup (FNRG) , spoke to Green Left Weekly again over the phone from Tegucigalpa, sounding clearly shaken by the brutality of the repression metered out earlier in the day. Her voice trembling, she said: “In all honesty, the repression was extreme. There was no contemplation nor respect nor anything for human rights.

    ”The repression was extremely strong.

    “We still do not know what the coup regime aims to do with the opposition, because as each day passes, the situation becomes more and more intense. Each day is more and more intense.”

    Called by the FNRG , the massive protest that began at 8am on September 23 was a strong demonstration of the people’s will to see Zelaya, their elected president, return to the presidential palace.

    Due to a spate of lootings caused by the coup regime imposing a total curfew that led to shortages of food and medicine, the regime temporarily lifted between 10am and 5pm today.

    Pereira said: “The mobilisation was extremely large, making use of the fact that the curfew had been lifted. The people spilled out onto the streets en masse .... The police tried to provoke the protestors in order to create chaos, but the resistance ignored them.”

    The aim of the protest was to peacefully march to an area close by the Brazil embassy, where Zelaya remains despite the regime cutting off electricity, blocking food and firing tear gas into the compound.

    Gilberto Rios, a leader of the FNRG, told GLW over the phone: “When we got to the zone, the police, without any prior provocation on behalf of the protestors, began launching tear gas canister.

    “The march was quickly dispersed. Many had to be taken to hospital and a number of young people were arrested.”

    Despite this, the battle on the streets of Tegucigalpa continues.

    “Right now, throughout the night, there have been a number of shoot outs in the different colonias [poor neighbourhoods] of the capital”, Pereira said.

    “There are parts that are practically in insurrection, there are colonias that have declared themselves liberated zones.

    “They are well organised, they have set up three, fours layers of barricades to stop the police entering.”

    Both explained that the repression by the regime, which has left an unknown number of people dead and hundreds arrested, had increased support for the resistance.

    “Everything is possible”, Rios told GLW. “There is a strong feeling of rejection towards the Honduran Armed Forces that have been attacking its own people, similarly with the police….

    “Where I live, the police came to repress peaceful protests and that caused even more people, who although against the coup had not joined the resistance, to join the street battles.”

    However, as the intensity of the situation mounts, “sectors of the population are beginning to feel that some kind of foreign intervention can prevent a bloodbath”.

    Rios insisted, however, that “for us, the problem must be resolved internally”.

    Pereira said the talk of possible foreign intervention was coming mostly from right-wing forces who are feeling desperate, as they are losing control of the situation.

    Rios said the coup leader Robert Micheletti “has explained it in the following terms: they consider themselves to be a ‘little Berlin’, they feel like the Nazis when they were completely surrounded at the end of the war.”

    The coup regime has shifted from arguing it was invincible to “now talking about how they are willing to die in the government palace before handing over power”.

    Rios had earlier in the night told GLW that the FNRG had not been able to meet due to the confusion and pace of events. However, Pereira later confirmed they had meet.

    However, for strategically purposes the resistance has not yet announced what its next steps will be.

    When ready, information would be conveyed via Radio Globo, Pereira said. Radio Globo has acted as a voice for the resistance and its broadcasts are often disrupted and sabotaged has by the military.

    Pereira called for people around the world to “remain alert to what is occurring, denounce it, hold solidarity actions and remain up to date on news coming out of Honduras, because here the news is changing from hour to hour, it is changing every little while”.

    Rios said: “All of this [international solidarity] is important for saving lives.”

    Pereira said: “I want to say to the whole world that we continue to stand firm resisting. We are not going to allow this to slip through our hands, because just now, we have the people with us.”