Sunday, September 30, 2012

Student left wins major victory at Curtin Uni

Jess McLeod speaking at Refugee Rights
protest outside Northam Detention Centre
The student left has won a big victory at Curtin University, taking several key positions in the student guild elections held over September 25 to 27. Positions won include president, education vice-president, women's officer and queer officer.

The Left Action ticket ran a very political campaign, highlighting a range of student rights issues. These included opposition to the university's planned budget cuts and cuts to courses.

The university is also planning to increase parking fees, which will hit students hard.

Left Action's strong stance on these issues resonated with students and helped get the ticket over the line, said successful presidential candidate Jess McLeod.

Left Action also profiled its support for broader campaigns such as for equal marriage and refugee rights. The campaign also took a stance against Islamophobia and made clear its support for justice in Palestine.

The main opposition to Left Action was a ticket called Unity, which was led by Liberal students. Unity presented itself as the mainstream alternative to the “reds”. In a throwback to 1950s style red-baiting, posters reading “better dead than red” were pasted over Left Action posters on campus.

The results were close and Unity won several positions. However, the victory for the left on a principled platform is testament to the fact that hard work combined with a genuine commitment to social justice can get results.

McLeod, who is also a member of Socialist Alternative, told Green Left Weekly that this was the most serious campaign waged by a left of Labor ticket at Curtin University since the Resistance-led Higher Education Action Team contested the elections in 1996.

McLeod said the task ahead is to consolidate the election victory by building a left-wing, active and fighting guild.

[This article was first published in Green Left Weekly #940.]

Thursday, September 27, 2012

March to save Nyoongar culture

[Information circulated in support of Nyoongar sovereignty.]

From: Supreme Court Garden to Parliament House

When: Thursday 18th October 2012

Where: Supreme Court Gardens and Parliament House

Time: 11:30 am Gather at Supreme Court Gardens

Come and join us in our march to STOP THE BARNETT
from selling our birth rights over our sovereign lands and our

Guest Speakers Include:

Barbara Rose Kickett (Law and Culture), Ulli (Helen) Corbett (International Law and Human Rights)

Marianne Headland Mackay (Sovereignty) and open mic session at end.

Welcome to Country Theresa Walley.

Emcee Preston Culbong,

Performances by Kwinana Yonga Boys.

For more information contact Marianne on 0401320047 or Maureen on 0416376210

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Public forum: Against Islamophobia - Wed 3 Oct

Why we defend Muslim's right to protest

The police violence unleashed on the September 15 protest rally in Sydney against an offensive anti-Muslim video has sparked a massive outpouring of Islamophobia.

This forum will discuss the issues and context and how we can build solidarity against racism.

Speakers include:
Anne Pedersen (Murdoch Uni)
Victoria Martin-Iverson (refugee rights activist)
Farida Iqbal (Socialist Alliance)

6:30pm Wed 3 October

Perth Activist Centre,
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth (next to McIver station)

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638

Supported by Socialist Alliance and Resistance

Check out the latest episode of the Green Left Report which features an interesting discussion about the Muslim protests in Sydney

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Letter: Muslim right to protest

[This letter was submitted to The West Australian on 20 September 2012. While it is long for a letter to the editor, it is shorter than some other letters published on this topic this week.]

Of the 42 letters to the editor about last weekend's “Muslim Riots” published [in The West Australian] since Monday's report, not a single one has come out in support of the right of Muslim people in Australia to be able to protest peacefully without being the victims of police violence.

Daily I have waited for somebody to stand up in support of this basic democratic right. Were the letters not written? Or not published? I am unsure.

I write now because I have read credible eye-witness reports (by non-participants) [see here and here] that confirm that provocation by police was the main source of violence at the protest. Police turned up in imposing numbers - prepared for violence - and started to throw their weight around in a provocative way.

Had this not happened, most likely there would have been nothing more than a legitimate protest of 400 people against an offensive video. It would not even have been reported in WA media!

Much has been made of a sign calling for the “beheading” of those who insult Islam. Of course I don't support this. But whatever became of the notion: “I disagree with what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it”?

Instead, we have heard calls for deportations and stripping people of their citizenship – the opposite of democracy.

And why should a whole rally be attacked because of the signs carried by a few?

Indeed, why should a whole crowd be violently attacked because some people (in reaction to police violence) were throwing bottles? We would not tolerate that at a football match.

Many letter writers have used these events to launch vitriolic attacks on the whole Islamic faith. Have people forgotten the violent actions of mass murderer Anders Breivik in the name of Christianity? What about the Buddhist chauvinist attacks on Tamils in Sri Lanka? Or the slaughter of activists bringing aid to Gaza by representatives of the Jewish state?

Every religion has violent and fundamentalist elements just as every religion has peaceful and humane ones. No religion should be attacked because of the actions of a minority of its followers.

We have an important challenge to defend democratic rights in this country in the face of government attempts to erode these rights. Standing against the tide of racism and Islamophobia is an important part of meeting that challenge.

Alex Bainbridge
Socialist Alliance

Public forum against Islamophobia: 
Wed 3 October, 6:30pm, Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth (next to McIver station)

SBS news report on the rally

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Everything you ever wanted to know about Muslim protests

Interview with "professor" Andy Smokescreen

Rally against offshore dumping and the Pacific "solution"

No Nauru - No Manus Island

Welcome Refugees

End mandatory detention
No offshore dumping
Stop deportations

Rally on:
Sunday 14 October

1pm, Wesley Church Corner
cnr William & Hay Sts, Perth

More info: Refugee Rights Action Network
Ph 0417 904 329

Friday, September 14, 2012

Understanding the history and politics of Syria

Why Western intervention can't bring liberation from tyranny.

Speakers: Chris Jenkins and Farida Iqbal

6:30pm, Wed 19 September

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth
(next to McIver station)

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Hosted by Socialist Alliance and Resistance

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Perth solidarity with the Cuban Five

Perth action in solidarity with the Cuban Five - political prisoners in US jails - on the 14th anniversary of their incarceration. The action was outside the US consulate in Perth.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Refugee Rights film screening

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

A 52 minute documentary looking at the circumstances and decisions that leads someone to become a "boat person".

Jessie Taylor and Ali Reza Sadiqi traveled across Indonesia and met with 250 asylum seekers in jails, detention centres and hostels. Through candid interviews, hidden camera footage and in the words of refugees themselves, the story of "refugee" is told.

What pushes people to leave home? What do they leave behind? What do they fear? Why did they choose this path? And what does it take to turn someone into a "boat person"?

Meet the human faces behind the most controversial issue of our time.

6:30pm Friday 14 September

Wesley Uniting Church Hall,
97 William St, Perth

$20 entry

All proceeds to the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN)

Attend on Facebook:


ADVANCE NOTICE: RRAN will be organising a rally on October 14 against the Gillard government's resumption of the Pacific "Solution".

As the arctic death spiral gathers pace...

... can we do better than the "carbon price"?

Socialist Alliance and Resistance meeting discussing the recent record-breaking loss of arctic sea ice and the Gillard government responses to weaken even further Australia's lamentable carbon price.

Speaker: Alex Bainbridge (Socialist Alliance)

6:30pm Wed 12 Sept

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth
(next to McIver station)

Attend on Facebook:

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gillard hides from students

Around 50 students protested an appearance at Curtin Uni by Julia Gillard on September 5. The prime minister sneaked in through a back door while large numbers of police guarded the front door. Invitations to the function to launch a new building were issued only to a select few.

Protesters argued the case for equal marriage rights and to free the refugees.

One person spoke out against the ongoing crime of the war in Afghanistan.

The rally was organised by Equal Love Perth and was supported by the Curtin Refugee Rights Action Network.

Photos and video by Zeb Parkes

Monday, September 3, 2012

Australian government: Rajapaksa's partner in genocide

Brian Senewiratne in Perth
On Saturday September 1, around 45 people attended a presentation in Fremantle on the human rights crisis in Sri Lanka presented by Dr Brian Senewiratne. Brian is a Socialist Alliance member in Queensland and veteran campaigner for the rights of the Ilankai (Sri Lankan) Tamils, and staunch advocate for the right of Tamil self-determination.

While Brian comes from the majority Sinhalese community and has multiple family ties with the ruling elite (his cousin was a former president), he's famous for staring down the death threats and and insults thrown at him by government stooges.

Australian society remains largely ignorant of the reality on the ground, and at best the Australian media offer the naive hope that with the so-called "end of the war" the situation might be improving. In fact the the reality is very grim in both the South, where an activist, journalist or government critic is "disappeared" at least every five days (23 journalists have been murdered in the last four years); and in the Tamil homelands of the North and East where violence and ethnic cleansing meet the legal definition of genocide.

The meeting was called by the newly formed WA Network for Human Rights in Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka. The network grew out of conversations between SA members Sam Wainwright and Ram Subramaniam. The military defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009 has provoked much discussion within the Tamil Diaspora about the way forward for their struggle.

They recognised the desperate need for a campaigning initiative open to both Tamils and non-Tamils; and which would take up the cause of all exploited and oppressed people in Sri Lanka and Tamil Eelam regardless of their ethnicity; and without compromising on the right of Tamil self-determination.

No surprise that there has been a surge of refugees fleeing violence from Sri Lanka, some even attempting to make the entire crossing of the Indian Ocean without stopping. The genocidal violence of the Government of Sri Lanka and the determination of the the Labor and Liberal parties to "turn back the boats" go hand in glove. But they also gives us the opportunity to truly expose the inhumanity of Australia's policy and the violent nature of the Rajapaksa regime.

As if on cue, the next day Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop declared that Sri Lankan asylum seekers should be transferred back to the hands of the Government of Sri Lanka without even looking at their claims! The Sri Lankan Navy has even won thanks from the the Australian government for "stopping the boats" by firing on them. In fact leading figures in the Rajapaksa regime have been profiting from "people smuggling" at the same time.

The new network has put out a draft "Charter for Human Rights in Sri Lanka and Tamil Eelam" for which it's gathering supporters. A certain campaign is the call to boycott the 2013 CHOGM to be held in Colombo. Under the pressure of its big and well organised Tamil Community Canada is threatening not to attend, something Julia Gillard has ruled out.

At the Perth and Fremantle Activists Centres you can also get hold of the new book Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka by Rod Ridenour which is very good background reading for those who would like to know more.

By Janet Parker

UPDATE: There will be a protest outside Julie Bishop's office at 12 noon on Friday 7 September in response to her comments about Tamil refugees.

Below: How the Fremantle Herald reported Brian Senewiratne's visit:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Bosses are Bastards at Hungry Jacks

[These photos are from an action outside Hungry Jacks in Perth on August 31. Similar actions took place around the rest of the country as well. The text below is from a leaflet handed out on the day]

Right now there is a major push by sections of corporate Australia to end weekend penalty rates (where workers get paid extra for working anti-social hours).

Hungry Jack's is part of a cartel including McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC and others that are mounting a case to effectively eliminate the weekend.

Hungry Jacks had an operating income of over $1 billion in 2010 and a 50 per cent increase in profits that year. But they just want to gouge more out of their workforce by taking away penalty rates.

In New Zealand/ Aotearoa, Burger King (which is Hungry Jacks’ name in New Zealand) attempted to break the union of fast food workers there and launched a vicious campaign against union members in stores.

The young workers there stood together and refused to give in the Burger King’s bullying tactics. They campaigned against the shit conditions they were being forced into, and won public support.

Today, the union (called “Unite”) has announced that they have forced BK to come to an agreement. Sacked workers will be reinstated and compensated and that conditions will improve.

This shows the power of workers, even in casualised fast food industries. When we stick together, we can win. Even against fast food companies like these.