Christmas Island escape highlights bad conditions

Dramatic scenes unfolded as at least 150 asylum seekers, believed to be mostly Iranians, broke out of the Christmas Island detention centre on Saturday, March 12. After pushing down a fence, a number of detainees fled to the north-west tip of the island, which is covered in jungle. Almost 20 men are still at large, but are being hunted down by Australian Federal Police.

Police drop charges against RSP demonstrators

Melbourne police have dropped charges against two Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) activists involved in a dramatic protest against Australian racism on January 26 last year. The protest received extensive media coverage in Australia and around the world, especially in India.

From populist to puppet: not a big step

Peter Garrett, the 1980s rock star in a band noted for its anti-nuclear, anti-mining, anti-military stance, is living proof that parliamentarism will never serve the campaigns for social, environmental and economic justice.

John Pat's death remembered

Write of life / the pious said
forget the past / the past is dead.
But all I see / in front of me
is a concrete floor / a cell door / and John Pat.

— by Jack Davis

Refugee rights protesters take Titanic action

The sinking of RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 was one of the worst maritime disasters of all time. 1517 people died. Those killed were disproportionately poorer working class passengers and crew. While more than 60% of first class passengers survived, fewer than 25% of third class passengers did, and fewer than 24% of the crew. The Titanic serves as a clear example of capitalism costing lives: the disaster was exacerbated because the ship did not have enough lifeboats to save everybody.

Aboriginal communities fight return to 'ration days'

On October 20, Gurindji workers in the remote Aboriginal communities of Kalkaringi and Dagaragu stopped work in protest against the NT intervention. This protest revives the memory of the Gurindji walk-off in 1966, which was central in sparking a wave of protest and solidarity that led to the land rights victories of the 1980s.

Israel introduces sweeping apartheid legislation

Israeli lawmakers are seeking to further extend state apartheid during the 2010-11 winter session of the Knesset (parliament). Key in the new legislation is a series of laws on a loyalty pledge that includes acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.

There are differing views among Israeli leaders as to how far the loyalty pledge should go. Twenty-two out of 30 cabinet ministers approved legislation applying the pledge to new migrants and those applying for citizenship. As a requirement for immigration, the loyalty pledge was originally proposed by foreign minister Avigdor Liberman from the ultra-right Yisrael Beoteinu (Israel is our Home) Party. It was originally to apply only to non-Jews, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the name of “equality” has pushed for it to apply to Jews as well.

Labor plans to deport refugees to even worse conditions

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government plans to establish a regional processing centre to stem the very small numbers of asylum seekers and refugees who attempt to arrive unauthorised by boat to Australia. With a nod to the Coalition’s racist “turn back the boats” policy, Labor plans to shift its current offshore processing of asylum seekers to a poorer regional country.

Australian artists to build an alliance to fight Israel's apartheid

Australian artists from disciplines including music, visual arts, poetry and film-making, with the common goal of ending Israel’s apartheid system, will come together at Australia’s first Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) conference, which is being held in Melbourne from October 29 to 31. By joining the BDS campaign, Australian Artists Against Apartheid will add further strength to the growing cultural component of the global BDS campaign.

Burqa ban aims to whip up Islamophobia

Hundreds of Muslim women and children rallied in Punchbowl, Sydney, on September 19 to protest a burqa ban soon to be debated in the NSW parliament. The bill, introduced by Christian fundamentalist MLC Fred Nile, criminalises wearing a “face covering while in a public place” except as part of a job, entertainment, recreation or sport. It states that “a religious or cultural belief does not constitute a reasonable excuse for the wearing of a face covering”, thus exposing the aim of criminalising the wearing of the burqa or niqab by Muslim women.