Monday, August 31, 2015

Record attendance for Bersih 4.0 protest in Perth

Well over 1000 people attended the Bersih 4.0 rally in Perth on August 29. This was more than double the number who attended Bersih 3.0 in Perth in 2012.

Organiser and rally chairperson Jordan Williams explained that the Malaysian government initially tried to dismiss the Bersih movement. Then when the movement grew they made some concessions but that the demands they gave in to were just "cosmetic ones, not the structural changes which were needed".

One issue he highlighted is the gerrymandering which means that a vote in Kampung is worth five times that of a vote in the city.

Since then, he said, the government response has been one of intimidation and repression.

The dramatic response to the latest Bersih mobilisation has been fueled by the scandal of a 2.6 billion ringgit (approx $870 million) deposit into the account of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.

"Prosecute Najib" was one of the popular signs at the Perth rally and student activist Zafri Zulkeffeli summed up the mood with a joke: "If you drive a car in Malaysia without a licence and you give the police 50 ringgit, we call that 'corruption'. If you buy a submarine and you get 500 million, we call that 'commission'. And if you get 2.6 billion in your bank account, we call that 'donation'!"

Socialist Alliance councillor Sam Wainwright addressed the rally and paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands who had the courage to stand up and protest inside Malaysia. He described the Bersih movement as a movement for "genuine democracy and equality for all people across ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds".

He said that Australian politicians present Malaysia as a "happy democracy" whereas the job of Australian supporters of the movement is to tell the truth about Malaysian "vote rigging, gerrymander, bribes, bullying, denial of right to protest and sedition laws" to the Australian community.

After speeches, the protest marched to the Malaysian consulate in the rain to drive the message that a large and growing number of Malaysian people in Perth support the Bersih movement.

The Perth rally was one of 74 rallies held around the world in solidarity with 36 hour Bersih 4 rally in 3 cities in Malaysia that started the same day. Hundreds of thousands converged at Dataran Merdeka (Independece Square) in Kuala Lumpur despite numerous police roadblocks stopping incoming busloads of protesters.

[This article by Alex Bainbridge first appeared in Green Left Weekly online 30 August 2015.]

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lively protest confronts Israeli film festival opening

The Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA) led a 50-strong protest of students, activists and Palestinians to boycott the opening of the Isaeli Film Festival in Perth on August 20.

The boycott is part of the cultural component of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The BDS campaign calls on Israel to: End the siege and blockade of Gaza; End the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem; Remove the illegal settlements and separation barrier; End its apartheid-like policies towards Palestinians; and Accept the right of return to all Palestinian refugees.

FOPWA called on the Luna Palace Cinemas to withdraw its sponsorship of the Festival.

"Our protest is not directed at the films or the film-makers, but at the Israeli government, which is engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians," the event page said.

FOPWA representative Nick Everett told the crowd that cinema representatives said this year's opening night would be a "small" affair with no guest speakers compared to last year's gala event with the Israeli ambassador.

He said that last year the Festival opened in seven cities in Australia compared to four this year.

FOPWA is one of several Palestine solidarity organisations in Australia to have written to the management of the Luna Cinemas chain calling for the cinema to withdraw support from the festival backed by the Israeli government.

This year's festival featured some queer films. Everett said this was a deliberate ploy to make Israel appear progressive whereas the reality is that Israel's Pride Parade this year was attacked by an ultra-orthodox thug and that no marriage equality exists in Israel.


This letter, sent to Luna Palace Cinemas on 23 March (to which we have received no reply), explains the reasons why we are advocating a boycott of the AICE Israeli Film Festival:

23 March 2015

Mr Antonio Zeccola
Managing Director
Palace Cinemas

Dear Mr Zeccola,

In 2004 the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel called on global civil society to boycott Israeli cultural institutions, products and events as part of a peaceful non-violent world-wide movement to end the now 47 year military occupation of Palestine. This international movement, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), has had the endorsement of many leading political figures including a prominent figure in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, Desmond Tutu.

The BDS movement is growing every day. The call to boycott has been respected by artists from all over the world. Just recently over 1000 artists in Britain became co-signatories to a declaration that they would not play in Israel. The BDS movement has requested that artists and cultural institutions not host Israeli artists who are funded by the state of Israel or by Israeli institutions that do not speak out against Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.

Israel has been blatantly trumpeting its use of cultural events to white wash its crimes for a long time. In 2006 the Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs launched an initiative called Brand Israel to improve Israel's deteriorating image abroad. Ayre Mekel of Israel's Foreign Ministry has stated

We will send well known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, exhibits...This way you show Israel's prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war

Israeli Film Festivals are funded by the Israeli Embassy and are an important part of this re-branding exercise. The Israeli Government and its advocacy groups deliberately use culture as a means to improve its image in Australia where 69% of people view Israel negatively particularly since Israel’s monstrous assault on Gaza last year.

Palace cinemas have promoted these festivals in the past and so became an unwitting accomplice to Israel's normalization of its crimes.

We note that the 2015 Israeli Film Festival has not yet been publicized on your web-site. We ask you to consider respecting the international call to boycott these events and to not schedule the Israeli Film Festival in any of your Australian cinemas this year nor in future years.

Once the Israeli government ends the brutal occupation of Palestine, implements reparations and respects international law in its dealings with the Palestinians we will welcome Israeli culture in Australia.

Yours faithfully,

Margaret Cassar
Executive Committee Member

The following are co-signatories to this letter:

Adelaide BDS
Artists for Palestine
Artists Against Apartheid (Australia)
Alternative Information Centre
Australians for Palestine (Victoria)
Australian Friends of Palestine Association ( South Australia)
Australian Palestinian Professionals Association
Byron Friends of Palestine
Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (NSW)
Friends of Palestine WA (Perth)
Indigenous Social Justice Association
Jews Against the Occupation
Justice for Palestine Matters (Sydney)
Justice for Palestine (Brisbane)
Just Peace (Qld)
Palestine Community of WA Inc
Palestinian Support Network Australia
Women for Palestine

[This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly online on 20 August 2015.]

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Seminar: Social class and inequality in capitalist Australia

Social class and inequality in capitalist Australia

This seminar is part of the preparation of the new Introduction to Marxism book being produced by Socialist Alliance.

Peter Boyle has been an active socialist for more than 40 years and is a former national convenor of Socialist Alliance.

2pm Sat 22 August

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

Hosted by Socialist Alliance

Attend on Facebook:

Friday, August 14, 2015

Axe the tax on tampons

Almost 50 people marched from Parliament House to Dumas House (where the state treasury offices are located) to present petitions to treasurer Mike Nahan on August 14. The petitions called for the removal of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on tampons and other women's sanitary products.

Protesters pointed out that products more commonly used by men including condoms and shaving cream are not taxed yet tampons and pads are.

In addition to the unfair bias against women, the GST is in its essence an unfair tax which targets poor people more than rich people. This is because the tax is set at a flat rate and poorer people are forced to spend a larger proportion of their income on consumer items.

Security guards prevented protesters entering the building but eventually conceded that they would take the petitions to deliver to Nahan's office.

[This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly on 14 August 2015.]

Monday, August 10, 2015

Successful GLW dinner

Over 100 people packed out the North Fremantle Bowling Club for the Green Left Dinner on August 8. The theme was "There is no planet B: Stop Perth Freight Link; Renewable Energy Now".

We raised over $2200 and heard speeches from Jaime Farrant on the climate emergency and Sam Wainwright (on Perth Freight Link) and a Welcome to Country by Professor Len Collard.

Perth rallies for marriage equality

'Put the bill, pass the bill' was the message as 700 people marched through the streets of Perth in support of marriage equality on August 9.

The rally began with a new song by Luke John O'Dell and featured speakers including Joey Cookman from Playgroups with Pride, trans activist Jayne McFadyen and Greens parliamentarian Lynn MacLaren.

Australia's funniest prime minister Baloney Abbott made an appearance but was carried off by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence when his delaying tactics were exposed.

Rally co-chair Sam Cavallaro introduced Maritime Union speaker Danny Cain by asking how many people in the crowd had been inspired by the film Pride. He pointed out the role of unions in supporting the movement for LGBTI liberation.

In his speech, Cain pointed out that the MUA supports marriage equality. He said the attitude among MUA members had changed over the period since the Howard government first brought in the marriage ban with the support of the ALP.

Friday, August 7, 2015

NO MORE DELAYS: Equal Marriage Rights rally - Sun 9 August

[Information provided by Equal Love WA]

Join Equal Love as we hit the streets on 9 August to demand full marriage rights for LGBTI people in Australia.

The recent victories in the US, Ireland and other places are a solid win for LGBTI people around the world. Marriage equality is back in the spotlight in Australia, and we need to demand it.

We welcome the reintroduction of marriage equality bills into parliament - but we've had enough of waiting.

August also marks the 11th anniversary of the marriage ban, and the 10th national day of action to commemorate it.

Follow Ireland, follow the US. Equal rights now!

1pm Sunday 9 August 2015

Forrest Place, Perth CBD


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Marriage Equality and Beyond - Tues 18 August

Public forum: All welcome

Marriage Equality and Beyond

We have to win the right to marry. We won't wait until 2019. We won't accept delays. Let's discuss how to win this campaign and what comes next.

Lynn MacLaren (Greens parliamentarian)
Jayne McFadyen (trans activist)
Dmitri (secondary student LGBTI activist)
Farida Iqbal (Socialist Alliance)
Helen Child (Socialist Alliance)

6 for 6:30pm

Tues 18 August

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen Street, Perth - next to McIver station

Hosted by Socialist Alliance
Phone 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Attend on Facebook: