In the Indonesia News Digest 31, August 16-23 there are more than 70 news items covering a wide range of issues relating to struggles for social justice and full democracy in Indonesia.
International News & Analysis
Cuba’s trade union confederation, the CTC, announced in the September 13 edition of the Communist Party (PCC) daily Granma that half a million workers, one in 10 state employees, will be dismissed by May 1. This is downsizing on a vast scale: in Cuba’s post-capitalist, centrally planned economy, the socialist state currently employs 85% the workforce of 5.2 million.
The owners of corporations, their media and their parliamentary stooges have deliberately created many myths over many years in order to justify their wars for profit. A vile mix of racism, xenophobia and nationalism is added to an almost religious awe surrounding the military and war.
French trade unions estimated that 2.9 million people participated in strikes and protest marches across France on September 23 in opposition to a push by centre-right President Nicholas Sarkozy to impose cuts to the country’s pension system. The government claimed that just under 1 million participated in the protests.
San Francisco – In a qualitative escalation, the Obama administration has for the first time used the “war on terror” against socialists in the United States. On September 24, the FBI conducted a series of coordinated early-morning raids at homes and offices in Minneapolis, Chicago, Michigan and North Carolina.
Four fighting organisations of the Indian left – Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, Communist Party Marxist (Punjab), Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) of Maharashtra and Left Coordination Committee (Kerala) – formed an All-India Left Coordination (AILC) through a joint convention held in New Delhi on August 11.
We undertake united front work because it is a principal tactic with which to bring broader layers of the poor majority into the movement challenging the power of the ruling class. It is a tool to bring together and mobilise different forces and build consciousness on a common platform of struggle.
The Political Committee of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD) recently revamped its English language website, making it more possible for people outside Indonesia to follow developments on the Indonesian left. There are already almost 100 items posted on the site, including both party statements and reports and articles on different developments.
[The following is a slightly abridged version of a statement issued by the Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women) National Network on September 28.]
The attacks by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) against the two-week International Q! Film Festival which opened in Jakarta on September 24 is a violation of basic human rights and threatens democracy in Indonesia.
Jakarta – In November 2004, Indonesia’s newly elected president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, pledged to bring to justice the murderers of Indonesia’s most prominent human rights activist, Munir Said Thalib. Yudhoyono called the killing a “test case for the nation” on “how much Indonesia has changed”.
A range of interesting topics was discussed in the Second Asian Global Justice School, organised by International Institute for Research and Education in Manila for three weeks in August.
Madrid – Ten million workers – more than half of Spain’s workforce – joined a general strike on September 29, and around 1.5 million participated in street demonstrations, according to the Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) and General Union of Workers (UGT), Spain’s two major trade union federations.
On September 23, Samir Shirhan, a 34-year-old Palestinian father of five, was shot dead by an Israeli private security guard paid by the Israeli government to protect illegal settlers attempting to colonise the Silwan neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
“It is very clear: Venezuela said no to Cuban-like communism”, declared Maria Corina Machado, the main spokesperson for Venezuela’s opposition Democratic Unity Alliance (MUD), shortly after the September 26 nation-wide elections to the country’s 165-seat national parliament.
[This article is based on talks presented to Brisbane and Sydney seminars on Vietnam on September 18 and 25. Chitts is a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and a founder of Stand Fast, the organisation of military veterans campaigning against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.]
Australian News & Analysis
In his 11th appearance before the courts on a charge of refusing to cooperate with the Australian Building and Construction Commission, Adelaide rigger Ark Tribe has had his trial adjourned yet again until November 3. The adjournment was made on September 13 to allow both prosecution and defence counsels to present arguments on the legalities of the charge against Tribe.
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.
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.
More than 40 climate change activists on September 26 occupied the Newcastle Coal Terminal – the world’s largest coal export facility – in protest over the failure of state and federal governments to halt Australia’s contribution to the climate change crisis. Organised by Rising Tide, the protesters demanded an immediate moratorium on the expansion of the coal industry.
The hysteria about refugees and asylum seekers has not skipped a beat since the racism-driven election campaign. Nearly 5000 refugees are being held in detention centres in deplorably inhumane conditions. Many have to wait 10 months or more before their claims are even assessed.
On October 12 a couple in Cairns will face trial under Queensland’s anti-abortions laws, with the prospect of years in prison if the charges are upheld. The case represents one of the most severe attacks on abortion rights in this country for decades.
In June 2008 the federal Labor government said its changes to refugee policy had removed the “worst excesses” of the previous Howard Coalition government’s racist refugee policies. Two years later, it’s clear that the Labor government has not only retained the core elements of these policies, but has actually expanded them.
The national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference to be held in Melbourne on October 29-31 will be addressed by an exciting range of speakers – some of which are listed below. For the full program and registration details, see the Australian Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign for Palestine website.
“A Victory for all humanity” was how the cover of Direct Action welcomed the liberation of Saigon and final unification of Vietnam on April 30, 1975, and that was the theme of a series of seminars in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane organised in September by Direct Action and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
Stand Fast, a group of veterans and former service people opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had two more successful barracks gate speak-outs against the war in Afghanistan: on September 9, outside of Brisbane’s Gallipoli Barracks, home of the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade, including the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment currently deployed in Afghanistan; and on Sep
The Revolutionary Socialist Party has announced it will stand Van Thanh Rudd in the seat of Derrimut in Melbourne’s western suburbs. The seat is home to large working class and migrant communities. In 2006, Jorge Jorquera stood in the same seat as a candidate for Direct Action, a socialist group that has since merged with the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
Compulsory acquisition provides state and local governments with the power to acquire land with or without the owners’ agreement, provided they are compensated. It is supposed to be the claiming of land owned by an individual to be used for the benefit of the public. In other words, it is the need of an individual versus the need of the community.
Views, Discussion & Debate
In the negotiations between the two major parties and the Greens and independents over who would form the new federal government, “transparency” was a frequently mentioned issue. Tony Abbott and the Coalition were criticised, legitimately, for their effort to hide the real cost of their election promises.
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.
In Their Own Words
“What is wrong with this? I borrowed money from the bank and made an investment.” – Mahmoud Karzai, brother of the Afghan president, who borrowed money from the shaky Kabul Bank, used it to become a shareholder of the bank, then borrowed from the bank for a profitable property transaction in Dubai.