Support for People of Honduras – 27 June 2010

Protesters gathered outside State Library

June 28 is the first anniversary of the military coup in Honduras, and the Honduran National Front of Popular Resistance called for demonstrations of support around the world. In Australia protest rallies were held in capital cities, including one in Melbourne organised by LASNET (Latin American Solidarity Network). See http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/ and http://www.mua.org.au/events/national-day-of-action-stop-the-coup-in-honduras/ :

Honduras Coup – what happened, why, and what now?

On 28 June 2009, 5.15am, the military violently invaded the home of elected President Manuel Zelaya. They kidnapped him and put him on a small plane from the US military base into exile.

Honduras is the third poorest country in Latin America and its limited wealth concentrated in several families.

The military coup took place because Zelaya began to implement a number of urgent social reforms in response to grassroots demands – these included a 60% increase in minimum wage, blocking privatisation of the national telephone company and further mining concessions, joining Petrocaribe for cheaper petrol and joining ALBA to fund education, health and development programs.

Most importantly, President Zelaya supported a process to allow the people to form a Constituent Assembly to reform the regressive Constitution which maintains the lack of democracy and exploitation in the country. An official survey to assess the level of support for this project was planned for 28 June 2009. The coup stopped this survey.

Persecution against activists (trade union, farmers, women, teachers, students, GLBTI, human rights, political organisers, etc) opposed to the coup and demanding the formation of a National Constituent Assembly began on the day of the coup and continues today.

Over 50 such activists have been killed, many receiving threats and attempts against them, thousands have been illegally detained, hundreds exiled, hundreds beaten up.

Despite ongoing repression, on 28 June 2010, this brave broad-based and non-violent movement under the banner of ‘National Front of Popular Resistance’, which had never lost sight of the people’s goals, will re-initiate the survey process to demonstrate widespread support for a National Constituent Assembly through a people’s referendum.

They are out to demonstrate that there are many more votes to have a Constituent Assembly to reform the constitution than the meagre percentage of people who voted in the illegitimate and violent election on 29 November 2009 for the present illegitimate President Porfirio Lobo.

They need our support!

The Melbourne protest, held at the State Library in spite of attempts by security to move it away, was supported by a range of groups including Friends of the Earth, the Australia Honduras Solidarity Coalition, the Colombia Demands Justice Campaign, the Chilean Popular and Indigenous Solidarity Network, Socialist Alliance and more. Video footage of the rally, including speeches made by amongst others representatives of FoE Melbourne and the groups mentioned, will be sent to contacts in Honduras as an expression of solidarity.

Banners spread out on the steps of the State Library

Banners from participating groups

Speaker representin FoE and Lasnet

Marisol from Friends of the Earth and Lasnet - note the unhappy security guard to the right

Speaker with raised fist

US out of Latin America!

World Refugee Day rally and march – 20 June 2010

'Refugees are Welcome' - rally at State Library

As the country heads for another election, and both main parties seem to be reverting to the xenophobia of the 2001 campaign – the infamous ‘Tampa election’ – an extensive coalition of groups both political and non-political combined to organise an emphatic protest in Melbourne at the start of Refugee Week. Two rallies, one at the State Library, and a second at the Melbourne Museum, were followed by what has become the traditional march through Fitzroy to the Fitzroy Town Hall to join the annual celebration of diversity, the Emerge Festival. At the State Library the main speaker, apart from MC Sue Bolton, was Nazeem Hussain (from Salam Café and Fear of a Brown Planet), while at the Museum Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry called for an end to what he called ‘bipartisan bullying’. (See report of the event by Andra Jackson in The Age: Take the politics out, says professor). There were further speeches at the Town Hall, including a harrowing account of experiences in Sri Lanka from a Tamil refugee (see article referred to above) and contributions from a representative of the Hazara community, a Somali member of the newly-formed advocacy group RISE (Refugees Survivors and Ex-Detainees – http://riserefugee.org/, and long-time refugee activist Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
It would have been pleasing to say that the threatened rain held off, but it didn’t, as some of the pictures below may show…

See also:

http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/newsevents/rwevents_vic.html
https://sites.google.com/site/worldrefugeedaymelbourne/

Photos from the rallies and march, mostly self-explanatory:

Panels showing lists of supporting groups and organisations

MC Sue Bolton speaking

Sue Bolton was MC at the State Library

Display of variously coloured banners

Banner of AWU, one of many unions represented

Nazeem calling for a 'Brown Australia' policy...

On the march from the State Library to the Museum:

Head of march in LaTrobe Street

Banner of Union of Australian Women

One of several banners from the Refugee Action Collective

'War creates refugees' - RAC banner

One of several banners from the Socialist Alternative

Banner - 'Justice for Climate Refugees'

See next image for the reverse of this banner

'Open the Border - Close the Coal Mines' - reverse of preceding

Meanwhile, at the Museum:

Large letters spelling out 'Rember Tampa' against fence

'Red Brigade' marching band playing for the rally

The band leads the way to meet the approaching marchers

As the marchers from the State Library approach, the Red Brigade set off to meet them

Meeting of the two groups

Part of the combined crowd at the Museum

Patrick McGorry speaking

On the march again, this time heading for the Fitzroy Town Hall, via Nicholson Street, Gertrude Street, and Brunswick Street:

Band and head banner in Nicholson Street

Banner of Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project

Banner of Australian Jewish Democratic Society

Another union banner, the LHMU

Various banners, marchers with dog

Band leading up Brunswick Street

Arriving at Fitzroy Town Hall:

Marchers arriving at Fitzroy Town Hall

Part of crowd at Fitzroy Town Hall

Aboriginal elder Robbie Thorpe tends sacred fire on steps of Town Hall

Aboriginal Elder Robbie Thorpe tends sacred fire on steps of Town Hall

The final speakers:

Speaker for Hazara refugees

Speaker for Hazara refugees

Speaker for Tamil refugees

Speaker for Tamil refugees

Speaker from RISE

Somali refugee speaking for RISE

Pamela Curr

Pamela Curr, speaking for all

“Basics Card’s a Racist Card!” – Picket of FAHCSIA office in Melbourne, 18 June 2010

The Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC), along with unionists, indigenous activists and supporters, staged an emphatic protest last Friday at the Melbourne office of the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs at Casselden Place. A range of speakers detailed the effects of the NT Intervention and the imposition of the so-called ‘Basics Card’ and a large-scale replica was ceremoniously burnt in the forecourt, before a march around the building, including a just-too-late attempt to enter through a back entrance. The above footage includes the preliminaries, the card-burning, and the march; there is more on the Facebook page of the Collective (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=91084301876&v=info&ref=ts) and further speeches are on their way.
See also:

For some workers, the struggle will never end
– Andra Jackson in The Age, and

http://maicollective.blogspot.com/

http://www.nuw.org.au/get-involved/campaigns/jobs-with-justice-campaign

Here is the callout from MAIC:

On June 18th we will protest the 3rd year of the Northern Territory Intervention. Kevin Rudd has continued and extended the Intervention policy towards Aboriginal people pushed through in the final days of the Howard era.

The Intervention was based upon the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), indicating the racist basis of the Intervention. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin claims her new Intervention legislation is ‘reinstating the RDA’. This is a lie.

Under the new laws all of the racist Intervention policies introduced by Howard in 2007 will remain in place. Government measures to control Aboriginal communities include:

• Government Business Managers on Aboriginal communities
• Signing over Aboriginal land for 5-40 years before housing or services are offered
• Racist alcohol and pornography bans

People will not have access to the Racial Discrimination Act to challenge these measures.

Welfare quarantines will also remain compulsory for the vast majority of Aboriginal people currently on the system. This manages income spending from welfare payments through a ‘Basics Card’. A recent detailed research report by the Menzies School of Health found income management had no beneficial effect on tobacco and cigarette sales, soft drink or fruit and vegetable sales. Rather, income management has caused racially segregated queues in stores, forced movement of Aboriginal people into urban centres to access money on the Basics Card, and forced work for Basics Card money, harking back to the ‘rations days’.

Send a message at Fahcsia, government department responsible for administering the intervention, that this racist intervention must go!

More video (added 22June):

(Added 23 June):

[Added 29 June] There is now a fuller account of the protest on Melbourne Indymedia, including a link to Joanne Knight’s blog.

Equal Work – Equal Pay – Unions rally in Melbourne, 10 June 2010

Linda White speaking

Linda White, ACTU Vice-President and ASU Assistant National Secretary

The Australian Services Union, backed by the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the union movement, and in conjunction with the Health Services Union,the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Australian Workers’ Union and Australian Education Union, this week lodged submissions with Fair Work Australia in support of a landmark claim for pay equity for the traditionally female-dominated service industries. On Thursday 10 June, rallies were held around the country in support of the campaign.

The action in Melbourne began with a rally at Federation Square, addressed by Brian Parkinson, ASU Branch Secretary, followed by Linda White (above), Lloyd Williams, State Secretary of the Health Services Union, and others, including long-time ASU member Joy Stevens, who pointed out amongst other things that job satisfaction doesn’t pay off a mortgage …

After the speeches there was a noisy march through the CBD to Parliament House, made all the louder by the whistles handed out by the bucketful at the start of the rally. Slogan of the day was “We’re here today for equal pay!”, but there were others, as can be heard on the accompanying video:

There are reports of the rally on Melbourne Indymedia and the Trades Hall website. See also http://www.payup.org.au/ and http://www.asuvic.asn.au/680831.html

Some more photos from the rally and march:

Banner from Anglicare

HACSU blue balloons

HACSU distributed blue balloons

Marching up Bourke Streetg

The march in Bourke Street

Placard - $ac$ $uck$

Protesters lined up at Parliament House

The front line at Parliament House

More protests at Israeli aid flotilla attack – 5 June 2010

Banners at head of march in Melbourne

Saturday 5 June saw continuing worldwide protests over Israel’s attack on an aid convoy heading for Gaza (see e.g., The Age). There were protests in Sydney and Melbourne, reported on Melbourne Indymedia, where these photos were taken:

Religious leaders at head of march

Crowd at State Library

The protest started with a rally at the State Library

Another view of the crowd at the Library

Another view of the crowd at the Library

Banner at State Library

One of many banners

On the march to Parliament House:

Banner reads: Pull down the apartheid wall, dismantle Israeli settlements

Banner of LaTrobe University students

Banner of Anatolian Cultural Centre

The Greens in the march with their distinctive heart-shaped placards

The Greens in the march with their distinctive heart-shaped and triangular placards

Hand-shaped placard - Stop the Genocide

From the middle of the march, looking back down Bourke Street

From the middle of the march, looking back down Bourke Street

At Parliament House:

Crowd at Parliament House

Palestinian speaker at Parliament House

Palestinian speaker at Parliament House

Another view of the crowd at Parliament House

Model of boat with slogan Free Gaza, Free Palestine

At the end of the protest, this unusually elaborate 'prop'

Nuclear Abolition Day Vigil in Melbourne – 4 June 2010

Lineup with icanw.org lettering under fire station mural

On the eve of  Nuclear Abolition Day ICAN Australia launched a new short video entitled “Who by Fire” based on retelling of the legend of Prometheus and Pandora displayed in a mural on the wall of the Fire Station Museum on Victoria Parade. Before the screening, which took place at Trades Hall, there was a peace picnic in Parliament Gardens, courtesy of Friends of the Earth ACE Collective, and a live performance of the work interspersed with live music and rap. Members of the audience – including several from Japanese for Peace – stood in the grounds of St Peter’s Eastern Hill church opposite the Museum, and 23 of them held lanterns, each representing 1000 nuclear weapons, this being the total world arsenal today …

In thegrounds of the church - audience with lanterns

(Click on image for full size version)

The ICAN video can be viewed on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yVXLDA3YMM – and see also the ICAN Australia website entry – http://www.icanw.org/node/5252

More pictures:

The picnic -

Dave Sweeney and others at the food table

Dave Sweeney and others at the food table

Cakes and chai

Cakes and chai - there were also lentil burgers ...

Lest we forget - banner draped on tree

ICAN placards at the picnic

Children with placard

At the performance -

Young boy with lantern

Another young protester

Closeup up lantern-bearers

In the grounds of the church

Performance in full swing - fire engine with Dave Sweeney in background

Fran, Madeline, Kasey, Izzy; Dave Sweeney read the narration perched on a classic fire engine ...

Rappers in action

Izzy and Kasey, Fran in background

Another view of the mural

See also http://www.nuclearabolition.org/

Protest at Israeli attack on aid flotilla – 1 June 2010

Protest banners in Bourke Street mall at start of protest

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign called an emergency action in response to Israel’s lethal attack on peace activists on board a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.  In spite of the extraordinarily short notice – scarcely 24 hours – as many as 1500 people assembled in the Bourke Street Mall to voice their anger and condemnation of Israel’s action. There was a long list of speakers, including Greens Senate candidate Adam Bandt and union leaders, representatives of the Turkish and other communities, as well as a strong anti-Zionist Jewish voice towards the end, when the protest had moved through the streets to the State Library. There is more about the rally on Melbourne Indymedia and video on YouTube:

(Also on EngageMedia)

Banner at head of march - "Shame Israel"