Abdurrahman Wahid, the president of Indonesia between 1999 and 2001, died on December 30, aged 69. His death was met by a wave of commentary and discussion praising his contribution to Indonesian society, especially from the humanitarian and liberal democratic sectors: intellectuals, NGOS and human rights advocates.
International News & Analysis
The following statement was issued by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) late on December 18 in response to the results of the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit.
We, the countries that make up ALBA, denounce before the world the threat that the results of the United Nations Conference in Copenhagen pose for the destiny of humanity.
On December 23, the Indonesian Attorney General’s Department announced the banning of five books. Soon afterwards, it became known that the attorney general is looking at possibly banning another 20 titles. This follows the banning of the film Balibo, which tells the story of Suharto’s invasion of East Timor and the suppression of history textbooks in 2007.
Burma’s military government, the so-called State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), is planning to hold elections some time in 2010, on yet-to-be-announced date. This follows approval of a new constitution amid chaos following the deadly Nargis cyclone in 2008.
Since becoming Cuba’s acting president in August 2007, Raul Castro has called for a nationwide debate on the future of Cuba’s socialist revolution. This debate has been taking place in workplaces, neighbourhoods, Cuban Communist Party (PCC) base committees and informally in bars, cafes and on the streets.
London – The farce of the climate-change summit in Copenhagen affirmed a world war waged by the rich against most of humanity. It also illuminated a resistance growing perhaps as never before: an internationalism linking justice for the planet Earth with universal human rights, and criminal justice for those who invade and dispossess with impunity.
San Francisco – Less than two weeks before the first anniversary of US President Barack Obama’s inauguration, when the catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti, Robert Gates, the US secretary of defence, immediately announced that no food, water or medicines would be delivered until “security” was established. The first order of business was to send in 10,000 US troops.
At a December 13-14 summit in Havana of the representatives of the nine countries that make up the Bolivarian Alliance For the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), Cuban President Raul Castro correctly predicted that the UN-organised climate change conference in Copenhagen would be a failure.
On January 19, one week after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, Agence France Presse reported that hundreds of Haitians looked stunned as several helicopters landed 100 US soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division in the grounds of the Presidential Palace.
With all attention on Afghanistan as violence and US troop commitment there surges, the occupation in Iraq has received less attention in recent months than it has since the invasion of Iraq took place in March 2003.
“How much longer are we going to allow transnational companies to come here to speculate with our prices?” asked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on January 17, announcing the expropriation of the large Exitos department store chain–three-quarters owned by the French company Casino Guichard Perrachon, with a minority share owned by the Colombian company Exito SA – on his weekly TV
Australian News & Analysis
Demonstrations were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth, Auckland, Toronto and London and email/postcard campaigns in the US and Malaysia on January 18 to mark 100 days since 254, mostly Tamil asylum seekers, left on a boat heading for Australia were intercepted by the Indonesian navy.
The defining feature of Australian politics today is the ongoing retreat of the organised working class. In the face of the serious economic crisis, there is no mass expression of a working-class alternative.
The horrendous January 12 earthquake in Haiti has attracted a world-wide response to deal with one of the worst disasters in modern times. In addition to the catastrophic loss-of-life, the impact of the earthquake has literally re-shaped many of Haiti’s cities and towns, uprooting hundreds of thousands who may never return to the places where they once lived.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party gained a good start to the year with its Marxist Education conference in Sydney on January 2-5. In addition to the high quality talks on Marxist theory, history and politics today, the conference provided a boost to RSP members’ morale.
On January 26 two members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, Van Rudd and Sam King received international notoriety for a stunt highlighting Australian racism where they wore Ku Klux Klan (KKK) costumes with “racism made in Australia” written on them.
At least 164,000 Tamil men, women and children were being held in military internment camps – without access to humanitarian agencies, independent monitors, media or local civil authorities – when Stephen Smith, Australia’s foreign minister, visited Sri Lanka on November 9, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Views, Discussion & Debate
We stand for the transformation of human society, from its current basis of greed, exploitation, war, oppression and environmental destruction, to a commonwealth of social ownership, solidarity and human freedom, living in harmony with our planet’s ecosystems.
Marx and Engels’ establishment of the scientific basis of socialism was indispensable to the struggle for a better world because the fight against capitalism must be a conscious one in a way that capitalism’s fight against feudalism was not.
Written & directed by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana & Stephen Lang
Runtime: 162 minutes
In cinemas now
Written by Anthony Peckman
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman
Runtime: 133 minutes
In cinemas now
In Their Own Words
Notre Dame to be demolished?
“... all believers, regardless of their faith, must refrain from ostentation and provocation and … practise their religion in humble discretion.” – French President Nicolas Sarkozy, writing in Le Monde in defence of the Swiss referendum that banned construction of minarets.