Asia Pacific

South People's Solidarity Network conference

On July 5-8, activists from Southern countries gathered for the South-South People’s Solidarity Network (SSPSN) in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Taking up the theme “Development Paradigms and Strategy for Action–Response from the South”, the conference was organised by the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) and the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation (VPDF), which was sponsored by Action Aid International (AAI). The previous conference was held in Hanoi in 2007.

US restores military ties with Indonesia's Kopassus killers

Human rights groups have reacted angrily to an announcement by Washington that it will restore military ties with Indonesia’s abusive special forces Kopassus, accused of perpetrating some of the worst crimes against the people of East Timor, Indonesia and West Papua. The July 22 announcement, which signalled a lifting of a 12-year ban on US training of Kopassus, was made during a visit to Jakarta by US war secretary Robert Gates, who has long advocated the restoration of full bilateral ties with the Indonesian military (TNI).

Struggle for land rights in Yogyakarta

The beach-side town of Parangtritis, on the southern coast of Yogyakarta, is currently the site of a protracted and bitter struggle over land between the local government and people.

The south coast is an important asset for the tourism industry in Yogyakarta. Foreign investors plan to build a 68.2 hectare golf course, a 55 hectare resort and three- and four-star hotels. This will result in thousands of home evictions.

Burmese military sets date for sham elections

Burma’s military dictatorship is preparing so-called elections on November 7, based on the sham 2008 constitution, which was crafted to further strengthen and legitimise permanent military power. Under that constitution, the military is guaranteed at least 25% of the seats. It is also likely that a large proportion of the remaining 75% will be taken by former military officers “retiring” to stand in the election.

A first-hand insight into Vietnam's long revolutionary struggle

The 30 Year War: Memoirs of War
The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi, 2009. 709pp.
Available from all Direct Action offices for $20.

People's hero celebrates 100th birthday

On August 25 Vo Nguyen Giap celebrated his 100th birthday, accompanied by tributes and well wishes from the people of Vietnam and from revolutionaries around the world.

Agent Orange: US still attacking the people of Vietnam 35 years on

Despite the Vietnam War ending 35 years ago the US chemical bombardment of Vietnam is still claiming victims. More than 3 million Vietnamese have suffered the effects of Agent Orange — the nickname given to dioxin rich herbicides sprayed by the US military over large parts of central and southern Vietnam. The Vietnamese Red Cross estimates up to 3 million Vietnamese children and adults have suffered health problems related to Agent Orange exposure, and that there are a million victims in Vietnam today, many of them children born with serious deformities, as a result of their parents’ exposure to the chemical.

A Call to Action on Orange Day (August 10, 2010)

Five decades ago, on August 10, 1961, U.S. forces conducted the first spraying mission of so-called “herbicides” or “defoliants,” beginning the chemical warfare which lasted for almost 10 years (1961-71). The use of Agent Orange brought about untold human death and suffering, as well as environmental destruction to South Vietnam and surrounding areas. Consequently, this date has become an annual commemoration—the “Day for Victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam” (or “Orange Day”) to remind all of us about a major disaster for humanity.

Indonesia: New left-wing trade union federation established

Under the theme “Unite against capitalism and the regime that supports it, build a united national labour movement that is progressive, militant, democratic and independent”, on July 9, 76 labour union representatives from around the country gathered in the Jakarta satellite city of Bogor for a three-day congress to establish a new union federation, the Indonesian Labour Movement Union (PPBI).

Indonesian press, freedom of expression under attack

At around 2.30am on June 28, a group of men arrived at a major news distribution outlet in Central Jakarta. “We want to buy all copies of this magazine”, said one, pointing to Tempo, hot off the press with a cover story titled “Police officers’ fat bank accounts”.