It is very moving and impressive to watch tens of thousands of Pakistanis singing harmoniously in support of deposed President Imran Kahn Saturday night, whilst holding torches. The Pakistanis are not dupes. Similar protests occurred all over Pakistan.
Can Palestine be liberated while the US illegally occupies Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq? Apparently Melbourne's pro-Palestine movement thinks Palestine can be liberated while Syria has much of its territory illegally occupied and US troops also illegally occupy Iraq and Afghanistan.
I attended both the Freedom Protest and the huge pro-Palestine Protest in Melbourne yesterday on 15 May 2021. At both protests I intended to show my support for each of those two respective causes and to distribute our leaflet on Julian Assange. 
Unfortunately, I did not stay long at the Freedom Protest, because I thought that it would be more promising and and more productive to go to the pro-Palestine protest. My reason was that I supposed the Palestine protest would attract a wide range of related left-wing causes, such as people who support the Syrian and Venezuelan people. I also expected that people there would be very receptive to the leaflet in support of Julian Assange I had to distribute.
Where, at the Freedom protest, nearly everyone I approached with a leaflet was happy to accept it, I was disappointed to discover that at the pro-Palestine protest, whilst most accepted a copy of my leaflet and many even thanked me and expressed support for Julian Assange, a surprising number of people there were quite hostile to my handing out those leaflets.
In hindsight, I now realise that I should have challenged those people to explain to me their apparent hostility to Julian Assange. Many of those who were hostile seemed to me to be members of the supposedly far-left socialist parties, one of which I was associated with, more than 30 years ago. I could have said to any one of those people:
"Don't you realise that because of Wikileaks and Julian Assange it is not nearly as easy as it once was for the United States to continue its support for Israel or to fabricate pretexts to start other wars in the Middle East? Don't you realize that, by giving people the ability to safely leak information from inside the US government and the US military, Wikileaks helps people in countries like Palestine fight there for their freedom?"
Unfortunately, I did not.
How can Free Palestine Melbourne be more effective?
I also felt that the overall approach of the pro-Palestine protest was seriously flawed.
Even more so, the Hamas resistance in the Gaza strip, so villified by Israel and the corporate newsmedia, should be commended for their heroic acts of solidarity with their fellow Palestinians on the West Bank who were being savagely repressed at the al-Aqsa mosque and elsewhere whilst having even more of their homes demolished to make way for yet more illegal Israeli settlements.
Hamas chose, from its tiny vulnerable coastal enclave, to launch missiles northwards into Israel in an effort to make Menachem Begin, the crooked Prime Minister of Israel, reconsider his decision to steal more Palestinian land. For that Hamas and other residents of the Gaza strip have paid a terrible price.
However, such military resistance alone, either in Gaza or in the West Bank, is likely to bring peace and justice to Palestine.
Unless other positive strategies to end the conflict are put forward and adapted by the Palestinian resistance, that conflict can only descend to an even more terrible and fratricidal conflict out of which there can only be two possible outcomes:
- the total destruction of the Palestinian nation within the borders of Palestine; or
- The destruction of Israel, with all Israelis expelled from the land.
Obviously, neither of these two outcomes are acceptable.
A lot of ordinary Jewish Israelis have decent attitudes towards the Palestinians. It's sad that a very high proportion do seem to support Netanyahu, and the terrible crimes being committed against Palestinians - at least according to mainstream news. But I think any strategy to defeat the Israeli government has to recognize that a sizable proportion of Jews in Israel do not approve of driving Palestinians out of their land. These Israelis can be reached, and should be given support to develop a different, non-apartheid, form of government, and to form opposition to the continual predations by pro-Israeli settler property developers in the Gaza strip and their military support.
What about Syria?
At the Palestine protest, I also found it curious that no mention was made at all about Syria and all the other conflicts going on in the Middle East, right next door to Palestine. There's a terrible war going on in Syria, right at this moment, and I felt it striking that not a word was said about that.
Estimates of the number killed so far in Syria since march 2011 vary between 388,652 and 594,000. (See Syrian Revolution 120 months on: 594,000 persons killed and millions of Syrians displaced and injured (14/3/2021) SOHR. 14 March 2021.) Of these, between 131,145 and 180,440 are from the Syrian Arab Army or their allies, who are defending their country. An estimate of the number of mostly foreign terrorists killed so far in Syria varies between 142,684 and 198,684. (See PDF document SOHR 14th Annivesary (1/6/2020) - whilst these figures are contested and difficult to confirm, but they do give some idea of the scale of the loss of life caused by this conflict.)
Every week there have been a number of illegal Israeli air strikes against Syria in support of the continuing terrorist war, of more than ten years duration so far, against the Syrian Government.
Very recently, Syria got so fed up with the Israeli air strikes on its territory, that they actually launched a missile strike themselves against Israel in response.
The failure of any of the speakers, at that pro-Palestine protest, to mention this war, or any other of the recent conflicts in the Middle-East - Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon - is difficult to understand.
Australian foreign policy is important for Palestinians - We need to hold our government to account
Not only did the Melbourne protest not seem to have any practical help for the Palestinian struggle, or for all the other people in the Middle East, but it did not hold the Australian government to account for effectively siding, since 2011, with terrorist insurgency in Syria, which has been an outspoken supporter of Palestinians for decades.
I can't say at the moment that any protests in which I have recently participated have grown to be really sizable, but I have taken part in small pro-Syria protest movements, and I'm still doing so. As in protest movements in support of Julian Assange, we know that every time we reach anyone, any time someone listens to us, it has an impact on Australian politics, because people then become aware of what our foreign policies actually are, and that what is happening in Palestine and Syria, or to Julian Assange, etc., depends to some extent on what is happening in Australian foreign policy. If no state outside Israel supported Israeli apartheid, or sanctions on Syria, or the imprisonment of Julian Assange, then it is most unlikely that any of these shocking processes would have endured for any length of time. Therefore, it is very important for any Australian protesting about conditions overseas to make links to any enabling policies right here in Australia, to be aware of what their own government is doing, or of how a decent and compassionate Australian government could help prevent the harm being done to people, by actively speaking up against it. It seemed to me that this awareness and consciousness-raising was absent at the pro-Palestine protests yesterday.
When we were protesting a few years ago against US-NATO intervention in Syria, we pointed out the Australian government's shameful role in sanctioning Syria, basically in supporting a siege against the Syrian people. We argued that supporting war against Syria had implications for the attitude that people should have towards the Australian government.
Where was there a similar attempt to raise awareness in the pro-Palestinian protest?
The pro-Palestine protest acknowledged, to some degree, the illegal acquisition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, rather than Tel Aviv. However, there was very little focus on the wrong of the Australian government's support for American policy towards Israel and the rest of the Middle East, in facilitating that change of Israel's capital. I only heard disapproval for Australia's support for these bad policies expressed once in any of the speeches. The failure to more emphatically point out corrupt Australian government policy in the pro-Palestinian protest was a serious shortcoming.
I mean, we should be able to influence foreign policy by appealing to or placing pressure on our local parliamentarians, as well as on the parliaments in elections. However, if people are not made aware of our complicit foreign policies and the need for these to change, it is as if we are giving up on the area where we could be most effective.
It is to be hoped that more protests will be organised, since the conflicts in the Middle East are ongoing, and will not abate without concerned, persistent, and informed, activism.
The 215K PDF file from which the double-sided A5 leaflet can be printed is here embedded in the article Barraitser's 'compassion' towards Julian Assange a ploy to avoid judicial scrutiny of the United States' illegal war on journalism? (12/1/2021) and has been adapted to become the article, Uphold the Rule of Law - demand that the Australian government act to end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange (11/2/2021).
Melbourne for Wikileaks (@melbourne4wiki) holds vigils for Julian Assange, every Friday, from 6:30pm until 8:30pm, under the clocks at Melbourne's iconic Flinders Street Station. Yesterday, Friday 19 February, I unfurled a canvas banner, 5 meters wide and 1.7 meters deep, with a big picture of Assange on it. No sooner had we raised this banner than we heard loud cries of support for Julian Assange. Support also came from cars, whose drivers tooted their horns, as they drove past the station. (See video below.)
After some time, in which members of the group handed out leaflets and and spoke to passers-by, a succession of people spoke through a megaphone. I was the third speaker. The video of that 7 minute speech was filmed and uploaded to YouTube and is embedded below. Unfortunately the recordings of two other speeches were lost and can't be included here. (I will transcribe my speech soon and include it in this article. Note that in the part where I argue that Julian Assange could not get a fair trial in East Virginia, I said this would be because the "jury was likely to be made up of employees of US intelligence services and their siblings." I meant to say, of course, "employees of US intelligence services and their relatives.")
James Sinnamon speaks at Vigil for Julian Assange
Thanks to everyone who told me my hat looked terrible. I promise never to wear it again.
#transcript" href="/node/6072#transcript">Appendix: Transcript of James Sinnamon's speech
I'm here today to show my outrage at the fact that the Australian government has done nothing, while this heroic, courageous and visionary journalist, Julian Assange has been illegally held in prison, illegally psychologically tortured and now, illegally physically tortured because no reason other than the fact that through Wikileaks, he was able to tell the world what the United States didn't want us to know about what they were doing in their own grubby political world and other countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya.
We now know, because of Julian Assange and other whistleblowers  before him, that the American case for their wars against Iraq and Libya and Afghanistan was a pack of lies. We know that because of Julian Assange and courageous whistleblowers from within the ranks of the United States military and within the United States government who know that what the United States has been telling the world is a lie and they've proven this to us. They've given us the information to show us that they've been lying to us. 
Now, because the world knows so much more about what the United States has been doing, it means that they are not able, so easily, to make up a pretext towards another war against another country.
Obviously, two countries that are in America's cross-hairs is Venezuela in South America - they want to take over Venezuela and steal all their petroleum - and they want to take over Iran for daring to be a sovereign independent sovereign country not under the control of the United States.
Now, Julian Assange is an Australian citizen. To report the crimes of the Americans and their allies is not a crime. It's journalism.
To speak the truth is not a crime. It's journalism.
But, in the eyes of the crooked, vile people, that are running the United States, and their allies, it is a crime for people to speak the truth about their crimes, and that is why they have been trying, since 2010, to get their grubby little hands on Julian Assange and they have done that through subterfuge with the help of the crooked Swedish government and the London government, they've fabricated a charge that Julian Assange had sexually assaulted these two women in Sweden.
Julian was quite prepared to go Sweden to answer those charges, but the Swedish government would not agree to prevent him from being extradited to the United States. So, he knew that the Swedish government, in collusion with the United States, had attempted to get him on to Swedish soil only so that they could send him off to the United States.
In the United States there plan was to try him in secret before a jury made up exclusively of people from East Virginia, who are mostly working for intelligence agencies or their siblings.  So it is unlikely that this so-called jury would have [inaudible ] paid any attention to the argument of Julian Assange's defence team. They would have taken about 30 seconds to pronounce him guilty and once Julian Assange had been found to be guilty, their plan was to lock him in jail for 175 years and in his prison term he would be confined to a single cell for 23 hours a day and allowed outside for only one hour a day. 
He would be denied any books, any Internet, anything. His life would be an absolute misery. The people he would be in jail with would be convicted terrorists and other murderers.
The prospect of this was so terrible for Julian Assange that he was clearly thinking of committing suicide rather than allow himself to be locked in jail for 175 years.
Now, all this time, for the last 10 years, the Australian government has said almost nothing. It's been ages - weeks since the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has said a word about Julian Assange. All he has said is, "Oh, it's going on in England and it's not really our business to interfere with what the British courts are saying."
Not a word about the complete travesty of justice that Julian Assange is facing with the fact that every day he is brought to court - every day he was tried - he was brought to court inside a cage. He couldn't speak to his lawyers. He couldn't pass notes to his lawyers. He was stripped several times and searched each day before he went into court.
How is that 'due process' according to Foreign Minister Maurice Payne? She calls that 'due process'?
Clearly, this Australian government, that's supposed to have a duty of care towards Australian citizens, doesn't want to know.
They're turning their backs on Julian Assange and doing nothing.
Any government that allows another government - the British government, the American government - to treat any of its citizens, that have committed no crime, in this way, doesn't deserve to be in power.
And what we have to do is, when every member of Parliament asks for your vote at the next election, ask that member of Parliament: What have they done for Julian Assange for the last 10 years whilst an innocent Australian citizen, who has committed no crime, has been tortured physically,  confined illegally and psychologically tortured? Where have they lifted a finger for Julian Assange? Ask them that question and it will be amazed if any one of them can talk to you with a straight face.
What you have to do is you have to find some candidates who do have a backbone and do have principles who are prepared to stand up for Julian Assange. Find those candidates, vote for them.
So what we are going to do is to continue to hold these vigils every Friday night. We're going to try to reach a larger and larger audience, get more and more people to these vigils and these protests and make our voices so loud that it will be impossible for the Australian government to ignore and continue to do nothing for Julian Assange.
It's about time the Australian government acted. If they had a backbone. If they had any decency in them, here's what they would do:
Tomorrow they would send out an contingent of Federal Police.  They would go right to Belmarsh Prison. They would tell the Belmarsh Prison authorities that Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, is being held there illegally by the British government. They would demand that the British government immediately release Julian Assange to come back to Australia. That's what a government with a backbone and decency would do.
Now the Australian government has done nothing. They've barely said a word about Julian Assange these last ten years. Any word they say is to cast aspersions on Julian Assange.
None of these people deserve your vote. None of them deserve to hold office. Make sure you act on that at the next federal election. Thank you.
 On the previous Friday 12 February, I had not gone to the vigil due to the sudden and unexpected, if short-lived, outbreak in Coronavirus infections on that day. On the Friday prior to that, Friday 5 February, the banner had been made with only one tubular canvas slot at each end into which the supporting dowel poles with which it could be held up for display could be inserted. Unfortunately, because of the banner's great size - 5 meters x 1.7 meters - one pole at each end was not sufficient to support the banner. A third tubular canvas slot was needed in the middle. As a workaround, I stood behind the banner (as pictured right) and held it up with my raised arms hands in the middle. After some time this fatigued me and we chose to place it flat on the ground facing upwards. (The image is linked to a short @melbourne4wiki tweet which contains a short video from which that image was copied. That tweet was re-tweeted by "Denver Free Assange" (@DNVfreeJA) The following Friday wooden poles to support the banner were inserted into its three long narrow vertical pockets, as you can see in the video.
 Correction: Julian Assange is, himself, a journalist and not a whistleblower.
 Corrrection: In fact the WMD fabrication that was used to start the war against Iraq in 2003 was not exposed by any whistleblower or Wikileaks. United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter. Scott Ritter, who had previously uncovered Iraqi chemical weapons, argued in 2003, that chemical weapons in Iraq didn't exist in quantities substantial enough to pose a threat. He consequently opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq but, for most people, that news was overwhelmed by the vast amount of corporate newsmedia reporting in favour of the invasion of Iraq.
 Two corrections: I should have said that the "jury ... are all working for intelligence agencies or their family" and not the "jury ... are mostly working for intelligence agencies or their siblings."
 Julian Assange would be allowed out for only one hour every day into another adjacent cell as small as his main cell for exercise.
 Correction: During his illegal detention inside the Ecuadorian embassy, which lasted 6 years and 10 months (19/6/12 - 11/4/19) Julian was psychologically tortured, but not physically tortured. This changed after Julian Assange was dragged out of the embassy on 11 April 2019 and imprisoned at Belmarsh. There Julian Assange was subject to both psychological and physical torture.
 Monday 22 Feb 2021, 7:47AM +11 : Upon further reflection, whilst the British government's imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange is clearly illegal, Julian Assange's release is unlikely to occur simply as a consequence of a contingent of Australian Federal police officers attempting to enforce Australian law and international law on British soil.
However, were Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to speak to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson to demand Julian Assange's release, I think it highly unlikely that the British PM would not accede.
If Boris Johnson did not agree to release Julian Assange, Scott Morrison would have this recourse: He could threaten to take the case to to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or to the United Nations. The ICC would almost certainly find the United Kingdom's treatment of Julian Assange illegal, if not criminal.
If Julian Assange's case were ever brought to the United Nations, the United Kingdom's odious complicity with the US government would be clearly shown before the whole world.
In the high likelihood that Boris Johnson would then agree to release Julian Assange, Scott Morrison should then send a contingent of Australian Federal Police to escort Julian Assange from Belmarsh Prison back to Melbourne in order to safeguard him from any further malign behaviour by any agent of the United States government.
This is how a decent and humane national leader would behave.
• If you knew that a government routinely covered up soldiers massacring civilians as if they were shooting them in a video game, would you stay silent?
• If you knew that 66,081 of the 109,000 recorded deaths in the illegal war on Iraq from US military were civilians, would you stay silent?
• If you found out that a government was spying on the citizens of every nation in the world and passing the information onto corporations and the military, would you stay silent?
Julian Assange did not stay silent. Courageously, he published the documents exposing murder and illegal surveillance, passed on to him by US. soldier, Private Manning.
These documents were also accessed and published in whole or in part by many other reporting outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, The New York Times, El País, Al-Akhbar, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, Verdens Gang, Aftenposten, Politiken, NRC, RTL Nieuws, Die Welt,and Fairfax Media. But those media are not being punished.
The United States Government was the government involved in these war crimes and illegal global surveillance. It controlled the mainstream and corporate press and was incensed that Wikileaks, an alternative press, had the moral conviction to out it for its crimes. Its revenge was to engineer Julian Assange's illegal detention in the Ecuadorian Embassy from August 2012.
Using trumped up charges, the UK and Swedish Governments colluded with the United States so that Assange was likely to be extradited to the United States on unknown and probably illegal grounds if he left his place of asylum. The United States has the highest rates of imprisonment in the world and its private and military prisons are known to be brutal and unaccountable.
Assange did not committed any crime by publishing material from a foreign state, any more than have the newspapers who also published this. His arbitrary detention has been denounced by the United Nations. His access to internet, telephone and visitors have all been withdrawn recently and a change of government in Ecuador threatens his continued asylum in its embassy. The Australian Government needs to act to bring Assange home to safety, in accordance with UN rulings.
Will you speak up for Julian Assange, as he did for you?
Rallies planned for Australia include: on Sunday 17 June: Sydney - 1-3 PM at the Town Hall Square. Speakers include John Pilger and James Cogan Socialist Equity Party (SEP) National Secretary. on Tuesday 19 June: Melbourne - outside the British Consulate 12-2PM. (17th Floor, 90 Collins St, Melbourne VIC) Will be attended by Julian's father, John Shipton and another young member of Julian's family and Shirley Shackleton. Brisbane - Vigil 4-6PM at the Ann Street Shrine of Remembrance opposite Central Station; Perth - 12PM-2PM at Forrest Chase.
The most controversial leaks were the Collateral Murder video (April 2010),#cite_note-ReferenceA-3">#cite_note-beeb150313-4"> the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and CableGate (November 2010). .
Moreland residents seeking to divert funds for the East West Toll Road and Tunnel into public transport initiatives will gather together with groups and individuals from across Victoria for Saturday's 1pm Trains Not Toll Roads rally outside the State Library at La Trobe and Swanston streets.
This is Moreland Council's second endorsed rally for public transport and residents supporting the Moreland Community Against the East West Tunnel (MCAT) campaign will underscore the 24-hour noise threat the project poses to endangered animals at the Melbourne Zoo and the denuding of Royal Park through the loss of more than 5,200 trees.
"There are so many better uses to be made of $8 Billion that would actually get vehicles off the road by putting people onto public transport," said MCAT spokesperson Moreland Cr Sue Bolton. "In Moreland alone, a small percentage of those dollars could extend the Sydney Road and Melville Road tram lines, install dual rail tracks north of Gowrie Station, build additional bike paths and improve bus services including into areas where there are none."
Cr Bolton said that Moreland supporters would be gathering at 12.30pm by the library sculpture at La Trobe and Swanston streets and include a reprise by children in costume and their parents who participated in the Children's March for the Animals to Melbourne Zoo on 4 May.
For additional information contact:
Moreland Council: Councillor Sue Bolton, mobile 0417 583 664
Moreland Community Against the Tunnel (MCAT): Michael Petit, mobile 0417 354 169
Where: Gather around the red brick Sport Pavilion in Princes Park on the footpath 20 metres south of Walker Street (Melway Reference Page 29 H12). By Tram 19 it is stop #16 within eyesight of Visy Park, home to the Carlton Football Club. By train, get off at Jewell Station on the Upfield Line and proceed two blocks to Sydney Road and then south to the assembly point at Princes Park, an 8 minute walk. As 4 May is a Sunday, there is free car parking along both sides of Royal Parade.
What will happen?
1.30PM -- Children, some in animal costume or holding a soft zoo animal toy, will form up behind a giant giraffe and streamers for a 500 metre walk led by Grand Marshal Rod Quantock across Royal Parade and onto the main entrance to the Melbourne Zoo. Victoria Police and Event Marshals will ensure a safe crossing.
What happens at the Zoo?
1.45PM – Arrive at the main entrance to the Zoo. Long large tables will provide activities for children. Beforehand, those carrying soft toys will place them in a mini-zoo.
2PM – Children move to a table to 1) paint zoo animal faces on paper plates; 2) cut out and colour drawn animals; 3) write a letter to Zoo officials asking them to protect the animals and 4) sign a scrolled petition seeking to cancel the East West Toll Road to save the animals from road rage. Adults will also be called on to sign the petition.
CONTACTS: Organiser: Michael Petit, Moreland Community Against the East West Tunnel (MCAT) Mobile: 0417 354 169 email: michael[AT]carolinepetit.com
Enquiries re EW Link: Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. (PPL VIC) Mobile: 0408022408 jbell5[AT]bigpond.com
Find out more: www.facebook.com/MorelandCAT
High Noon for Napthine
The event took place today on Melbourne's Parliament House steps at 12 noon. Master of ceremonies, Rod Quantock introduced the main speakers - Jackie Fristacky, Mayor of Yarra, Jan Chantry, Mayor of Moonee Ponds, Tony Morton, president Public Transport Users' Association, Richard Foster, Melbourne City councillor, Greg Barber, Leader , Greens Party Victoria MP, Richard Wynne Shadow Minister for Public Transport , Brian Tee, Shadow Minister for Planning , Joe Edwards,West Parkville resident, Keith Fitzgerald, Collingwood resident. Members of community groups announced future events regarding the East West Link campaign.
Motion carried and taken to Parliament House
The following resolution, addressed to the Premier of Victoria Denis Napthine:
"That this rally wishes to convey to you our total opposition to the East West Link Toll Road project and our support for funding instead of desperately needed public transport projects namely - the Melbourne Metro and the Doncaster, Rowville, and Airport Rail Lines" moved by Julianne Bell and seconded by Rod Quantock was carried unanimously and the message was relayed to staff at Parliament House.
Stop the Tunnel - Snap protest at Parliament
Thursday 12 December is a significant day in the ongoing battle over the East West Link Toll Road for Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc (PPL VIC) to host the snap protest. It is the last day of the sitting of Parliament before it goes into recess and is our last chance to point out again to the Government the folly of proceeding with the project which will signify damage to the environment, reduction of Royal Park to Ground Zero, heritage desecration, destruction of residential amenity and reckless expenditure of $8b on a mammoth roads project - the biggest in Victorian history. In addition it is D-Day for public submissions on the Comprehensive Impact Statement on the East West Link.
The protest kicked off at 12:15 pm on the steps of Parliament and heard from Members of Parliament (ALP and Greens), the Mayors of the Cities of Yarra and Moonee Valley and a number of Councillors plus of course the resident, protest and community groups who have led the great tide of opposition to the East West Link and have been advocating for public transport, notably the Doncaster Rail Link. The Public Transport Users’ Association spoke on their latest campaign “Public Transport not Traffic.”
Julianne Bell, the Secretary of PPL VIC commented as follows:
“News today reports that the Government’s own advisory Committee on “Plan Melbourne”, the new blue print for the city for 40 years, has resigned after having denounced the East West Road Link.
The Chair of the Committee Professor Roz Hansen is quoted in the media as saying that government was spending $6 billion to $8 billion on a road solution that belonged in the 1960s or 1970s and that ‘it is not smart, innovative or progressive thinking’.
A large group of representatives of community organisations were at the City of Melbourne meeting on Tuesday night and actually heard her full, electrifying speech. This is reflective of the lack of confidence in the East- West Link project being expressed right across Melbourne. ”
Public left in the dark to make submissions
The community is having difficulty trying to write submissions on the C.I.S of the East West Link as, to date, planning for the project appears to have been undertaken on the run so the community does not know its full impact and information has only been released by slow drip. The Linking Melbourne Authority even added another off ramp – the Ormond Road off ramp – just 2 weeks ago which will affect residences in Ascot Vale and overshadow Essendon Community Gardens.
No mandate, no democracy
Community groups continue to point out that the Napthine Government has no mandate for this tollway as the Liberal Government went to the last election on a public transport platform, including promises to build the Doncaster Rail. The rally will present Premier Napthine with resolutions from the meeting which will undoubtedly include the demand “Stop The Tunnel” and “Trains Not Toll Roads”.
Report of 2 Jun 2013 is republished from PressTV. Like Melbourne's Royal Park, Taksim Square is one of Istanbul's few remaining public spaces. It is also threatened with destruction to suit the selfish needs of developers who wish to erect high-rise residential towers. See also: OccupyGezi! OWS activists stage pro-Turkish rally in New York of 1 June in Russia Today, OWS activists in US rally in solidarity with Turkish protesters of 1 June in PressTV.
Thousands of anti-government protesters have reoccupied Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square despite heavy-handed police crackdown.
Thousands of people returned to Taksim Square on Sunday following two days of violent demonstrations that saw almost 1,000 people arrested.
They chanted anti-government slogans and called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign.
"We will stay until the end. We are not leaving. The only answer now is for this government to fall. We are tired of this oppressive government constantly putting pressure on us," one protester, Akin, told Reuters. There have been no reports of clashes between protesters and security forces. Istanbul has been the scene of anti-government protests since Friday after security forces attacked a peaceful four-day sit-in by environmental activists against the demolition of Gezi Park at Taksim Square. The tough police response to park protesters has sparked mass anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul and nearly 50 other cities, including the capital Ankara, Izmir, Mugla and Antalya. The protesters condemned the Turkish government as a "fascist government" and called Erdogan a new "Sultan." Amnesty International has described the police use of excessive force against the demonstrators as disgraceful. The group noted that at least two people have been killed and more than a thousand others injured in Istanbul alone. It also said some protesters have been left blinded by the massive quantities of tear gas used by the police. Turkish prime minister on Saturday admitted that "there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response." Protesters had occupied Gezi Park since May 28 to prevent bulldozers from uprooting the trees and demolishing the park in order to replace it with a shopping mall. The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and protests as well as a popular tourist destination, is the city's last public green space.
"We will stay until the end. We are not leaving. The only answer now is for this government to fall. We are tired of this oppressive government constantly putting pressure on us," one protester, Akin, told Reuters.
There have been no reports of clashes between protesters and security forces.
Istanbul has been the scene of anti-government protests since Friday after security forces attacked a peaceful four-day sit-in by environmental activists against the demolition of Gezi Park at Taksim Square.
The tough police response to park protesters has sparked mass anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul and nearly 50 other cities, including the capital Ankara, Izmir, Mugla and Antalya. The protesters condemned the Turkish government as a "fascist government" and called Erdogan a new "Sultan."
Amnesty International has described the police use of excessive force against the demonstrators as disgraceful.
The group noted that at least two people have been killed and more than a thousand others injured in Istanbul alone. It also said some protesters have been left blinded by the massive quantities of tear gas used by the police.
Turkish prime minister on Saturday admitted that "there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response."
Protesters had occupied Gezi Park since May 28 to prevent bulldozers from uprooting the trees and demolishing the park in order to replace it with a shopping mall.
The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and protests as well as a popular tourist destination, is the city's last public green space.
In recent months, the pathologically greedy bankers who run the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and corporations have demanded of European Governments they inflict financial misery on millions of Europeans to supposedly restore the fiscal 'health' of those economies. The measures include the reduction of government services and the sacking of public servants who provide those services.
Fed up with that austerity, dictated by bankers and other big corporations to governments that were supposedly elected to represent their best interests, people of Germany and Spain have taken to the streets in large protests and clashed with police.
This was reported on the 7.00PM ABC news bulletin of 2 June 2013 (emphasis added):
Anti-austerity protesters on Saturday took to the streets of dozens of European cities, including Madrid, Frankfurt and Lisbon, to express their anger at government cuts they say are making the financial crisis worse by stifling growth and increasing unemployment.
Thousands marched peacefully toward Madrid's central Neptuno fountain near Parliament, chanting "Government, resign."
Around 15,000 people gathered outside the International Monetary Fund's headquarters in Lisbon shouting "IMF, out of here."
Many protesters were carrying banners saying, "No more cuts" and "Screw the Troika," a reference to the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the three-member group that bailed out the governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus.
The report went on to put the justification given by the European Governments:
The bailout loans were given on the understanding that governments enact stringent austerity measures to rein in their heavily indebted finances.
Spain came perilously close to needing a sovereign bailout last year and was forced to negotiate a 40 billion euro ($52 billion) loan for its stricken banking system when its borrowing costs soared.
Ordinary Germans and Spaniards have not accepted this excuse by greedy bankers and their government glove puppets to impose an economic recession and destroy their livelihoods and have taken to the streets in protest.
According to on ABC report, Is microeconomic reform on its way back? of 29 May 2013 Australia Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is hinting that he may well also find excuses to slash and burn government services should he be elected to Government on 14 September. He will consider reviving the Hilmer report of 1992-94 which made it obligatory for state and federal governments to privatise assets and services.
Below are reports from Russia Today of the protests of 2 June 2013 in Germany and, before that, of 31 May.
Activists of the anti-globalist Blockupy movement scuffled with dozens of riot police who charged into a marching crowd to disperse protesters, reports RT's Peter Oliver. The march has been reportedly stopped.
What was supposed to be a march through the middle of German's financial capital by anti-austerity demonstrators really lasted only about 500 meters, when several hundred riot police in full kit came among the crowd.
The protesters started throwing paint-filled objects at the police so puddles of paint are here and there, RT's Peter Oliver reported. Later the paint filled bags were confiscated by police.
The organizers maintain there are tens of thousands of protesters and Peter Oliver witnesses a whole column of protesters going around the ECB headquarters.
The police force has split into two groups now. They do not let anybody through so the demonstration is not moving anywhere, as police and protesters are locked in a stand-off.
Water cannons arrived at the scene of a peaceful protest, Oliver reports.
Riot police officers have already used pepper spray several times and some people have been taken away, but it is not clear if they have been arrested.
RT's crew working at the scene has been separated by the riot police dividing demonstrators. The crew reports the use of fences and barbed wire by police.
Protests in Frankfurt-am-Main started on Friday when some 3,000 'Blockupy' protesters, clutching signs demanding "humanity before profit", blocked the main entrance of the ECB, the organizers announced that the coalition has "reached its first goal" of the day.
The anti-globalism march was called to celebrate the anniversary of the 'Occupy' rallies by blocking the European Central Bank.
The protesters moved to city's downtown from activists' camp in the Frankfurt suburbs, set up earlier.
Police reported that though some protesters thrown stones and there were some clashes at the barricades, several people were detained on Friday.
The ECB, which has headquarters at Kaiserstrasse 29, in Frankfurt-am-Main, has promised to remain operational during the planned demonstrations.
Blockupy activists lay blame for the debt crisis in Europe with the banks and in particular the ECB for its role in imposing austerity measures on EU citizens.
The austerity measures proposed by the so-called troika, consisting of the ECB, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission have not reduced the national debts of the European countries. An increase of taxes and cuts of governmental social programs they promote have actually worsened the situation, deepening recession and increasing unemployment in the EU dramatically.
Hanno Bruchmann, an anti-austerity activist, believes that "There have been many capitalist crises before, but now it is happening in the US and Europe, the financial crisis has transformed into a debt crisis, and now is the moment in which this has become a permanent capitalist crisis on a big scale."
"The fact that the protest is taking place in what's supposed to be the most advanced country does show the level of the problem" Antonis Vradis, of the Occupy London movement told RT.
A demonstration in German's Frankfurt-am-Main is expected to gather up to 20,000 protesters. Several European capitals are set to see large rallies later in the day.
In a separate rally in Berlin people are protesting in solidarity with the Taksim square demonstration in Turkey now into its second day of violence with tear gas and water cannon being used
From Russia Today, of 31 May 2013, 3 days ago
The entrance of the ECB is blocked by over 3,000 'Blockupy' protesters in a march against austerity. 'Blockupy' has announced the coalition has "reached its first goal" of the day.
Anti-capitalist protesters have taken to the streets of the financial heart of Frankfurt a day ahead of Europe-wide gatherings planned for June 1 to protest leaders handling of the three-year euro debt crisis.
"We call up everyone to join our protests."
The ECB spokesman told The Guardian that the Blockupy protests have not disturbed day to day operations at the bank, but would not specify how many bankers managed to come to work.
Apart from those who amassed outside the ECB, a smaller demonstration took place at the nearby Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) headquarters, where around 50 police vehicles had been deployed. The protesters set off by midday.
The crowd, estimated at 2,500 by local authorities, clutched signs demanding 'humanity before profit'.
Rain-soaked and dressed in ponchos, the crowd is equipped with a wide array of protest props- vuvuzelas, yellow wigs, pots and pans, and mattresses with the spray-painted slogan 'War Starts Here'.
'Blockupy' has become a top-ten Twitter trend in Frankfurt, and at 10:09am (08:09 GMT), user Enough14 tweeted, "Strong Powerful blockade at Kaiserstr. Not one banker will come through here," in reference to the ECB headquarters.
Police reported some protesters had thrown stones and there were some clashes at the barricades, but so far the protests are being conducted peacefully.
The mass of protesters first gathered early Friday morning in the rainy financial center of Frankfurt, in an effort to block roads leading to the ECB and Deutsche Bank headquarters.
The crowd was met by police decked out in riot gear accompanied by large Alsatian dogs. Helicopters hovered above and water cannon trucks were on standby.
Many of Frankfurt's banks have urged staff to take Friday as a holiday, following a state holiday on Thursday.
Spokesman Martin Sommer said Frankfurt's financial district could be occupied by as many as 20,000 who believe the Troika -- the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund -- is imposing an "austerity dictate" on financially troubled countries they have bailed out.
Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, have received bailout loans and Spain has received loans for its banks.
Blockupy spokeswoman Frauke Distelrath said the protest was not aimed at bank employees, but at its role "as an important participant in the policies that are impoverishing people in Europe, in the cutbacks that are costing people their ability to make a living."
The protesters have been granted permission to demonstrate at the airport by a court on Thursday, even after the airport operator requested the group be kept outside of the terminal.
Blockupy assembled outside of the airport at 1 p.m. local time local time to protest against German immigration policies and what activists have decried as an "inhumane deportation system." Fraport, the airport operator, has advised passengers to arrive early for their flights.
The court said if the number of protestors in the terminal exceeds 200, police can break up the gathering. Felix Gottwald, a pilot, tweeted that security had been stepped up at Frankfurt airport in anticipation of the arrival of Blockupy protesters. Passengers at the airport have noted the heavy security presence, saying that only those who show a valid boarding pass can enter the building.
Activists are tweeting that anywhere between 200-800 protesters are currently blocking Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1, although those number remain unconfirmed.
In last year's protests police shut down Frankfurt's city center in anticipation of the demonstration.
Eurozone employment hits record high to 12.2 percent in April.
The demonstration is taking place almost exactly a year after police detained hundreds in a four-day march against a temporary ban on protests in Frankfurt last June.
Blockupy protesters are also protesting against other issues, including food price.
5000 Singaporeans demonstrated Feb 18, 2013 against mass migration blaming influx for infrastructure strains, record-high housing and transport costs and competition for jobs. Government plans for even higher immigration have been greated with cynicism, distress and mass protest. Three video-links inside, two indie-media.
On Feburary 16 about 5000 Singaporeans grathered at the Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park to voice their anger at the government's announcement of a plan to raise the population with mass immigration. The government excuse was, shamefully and predictably, 'the aging population'.
Like Australian governments, rather than face facts about inevitably rising energy costs and the need for stable populations and less production to adjust to these limits, power elites wherever they can get away with it, try to make the public pay to keep them in the style of opulence to which they have become accustomed.
Protesters said how they had paid their taxes and worked hard, and that Singapore should be for Singaporeans. "We were not given anything for free here," said one woman.
Reading between the lines, one can see that their fear is that competition for housing and jobs will raise rents and lower wages.
Singaporeans rarely protest because they fear that displeasing their government might see them without housing. The government owns almost all the housing in Singapore. Since it is a dictatorship, that makes its tenants and citizens insecure. It takes a lot of guts to protest in Singapore, so the situation must be pretty awful. See, on dictatorship and penalties for poltical blogging: http://singaporedissident.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/singapore-dictatorships-look-good-till.html and http://exposingsingapore.wordpress.com/2013/02/ . It is also very hard to blog politically for citizens there due to government surveillance. For this reason Candobetter.net would like to inform Singaporeans that we welcome and protect comments and articles from Singaporeans on this matter and any others that fit in with our philosophy of reform in democracy, environment, population, land use planning and energy policy
Singapore and Australia - two islands with limited living space
Singapore is a tiny island which for years has relied on a daily influx of workers from Malaysia to supplement its workforce. Those workers have no rights of citizenship, nor residence. Each night the go home across the border. Citizenship in Singapore means the right to housing, eduation, social services and work. These conditions were extremely hard won. British invasion disorganised and dispossessed and turned into laborers a stable self-supporting population of localised clans and tribes. After the British left, Singaporeans faced poverty and overpopulation. Now, as they are getting some sense of stability, their government is trying to pull the British recolonisation trick. That's the one we deal with in Australia, where self-government is never a real possibility, since the corporates pull the strings in federal and state parliaments and state parliaments control local government.
Ordinary Australians can sympathise with ordinary Singaporeans. Singapore has very limited land, a population of about 3.3m (plus 2 million non-citizens) but a higher GDP than Australia, which has a population of 22 million. Australia also has limited land because, although it is a big continent, much of it is desert, lacks water, has high temperatures and cannot support much life. Australia's manufacturing industry has degenerated in the past 50 years (due to government policy) leaving it largely a commodity producer, relying on the export of minerals and agricultural product, and, more and more on the sale of citizenship via the backdoor through land-sales. Recent changes to workers' rights and conditions leave Australian citizens unprotected against low-paid immigrant workers. (See http://candobetter.net/?q=RightsAtWork).
Australia: Political disorganisation through mass immigration - an old colonial government trick
Australians have been greatly disorganised by mass immigration since the second world war, leaving the population in a condition where it cannot really organise politically. Although many Australians would probably like to have mass protests against high immigration, the society lacks the cohesiveness to do so. Singaporians seem to have retained enough commonality with each other to be able to organise politically, despite the dictatorship nature of the government. Maybe that is what the government is really afraid of. It may be following Australia's recipe for political and disorganisation via mass immigration.
The place where the peoples' protest took place, Speakers' Corner, created only in 2000, was the first official location for democratic speech in Singapore. No-one was expected to take it seriously.
“It’s a big red flag and they cannot go on with business as usual, with their old way of doing things of letting it blow over and letting emotions run their course,” said #0000ff" size="2">Terence Lee, who teaches politics at National University of Singapore. “This is not an emotional hump. I won’t be surprised if significant changes happen at the ballot box in 2016.”
The rally increases pressure on the government to slow an influx of immigrants that has been blamed for infrastructure strains, record-high housing and transport costs and competition for jobs. Singapore’s population has jumped by more than 1.1 million since mid-2004 to 5.3 million and may reach 6.9 million by 2030, based on the proposal. That stoked social tensions and public discontent that is weakening support for Lee’s People’s Action Party. [See: Shamim Adam, "Singapore Protest Exposes Voter Worries About Immigration," Feb 18, 2013, Bloomberg.com http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-16/singaporeans-protest-plan-to-increase-population-by-immigration.html]
Singaporeans get on well with Australians and, ironically, many have migrated here to get away from the population pressure in Singapore. Some Singaporean friends of Candobetter.net express surprise at how our governments seem to be inviting the same pressure here. Our Federal government under the National Foreign Investment Review Board laws has a special arrangement with Singapore to preference Singaporeans buying property here and State governments have done deals with the Singaporean dictatorship by giving public land away to Australand (more than 50% Singapore government owned) and permission to develop housing estates on it and resell to overseas buyers. An example is the housing estate at Royal Park in Melbourne, about which there were many public protests.
Singapore: "A small crowded island"
Another problem that Singaporeans share with Australians is that the government is trying to countermand the obvious decision by citizens to reduce their family size in response to the discomforts of population increase and the associated increased cost of living
Where Lee Kuan Yew tried to get educated women to have three children, the government is now trying to boost numbers with high immigration, as in Australia.
Singaporeans invited to send comments and articles to candobetter.net
Candobetter would welcome input - in the form or articles and comments - from our friends in Singapore on this matter. At the moment there are problems posting on this site if you do not use Explorer. We are very sorry (and embarassed because this is an open source site). If you experience real problems, please email us via the contact link at the top left of our page (http://candobetter.net/?q=contact), labelling your contribution, "Comment or article for CDB. We do hope soon to fix our upgrade problems.
You are invited to the official opening, the inauguration, of "Doyle's Dunny", a new toilet block at the entrance of the Australian Native Garden in Royal Park, Parkville. Iconic vegetation and indigenous and Melbourne Gardens traditions have been set aside for the siting of this enormous new stainless steel super toilet. The inauguration will be officiated by Rod Quantock Acting President of PPL VIC, as MC. Venue is Gatehouse Street Parkville entrance to Australian Native Garden, Royal Park, at 12:30 pm Friday 15 February 2013.
PPL VIC: Official Opening of "Doyle's Dunny" Entrance to the Australian Native Garden Royal Park on Gatehouse Street Parkville at 12:30 pm Friday 15 February 2013 You are invited to the official opening, the inauguration, of "Doyle's Dunny", a new toilet block at the entrance of the Australian Native Garden in Royal Park, Parkville.
Background History of Project:
As you may be aware, the Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne, The Right Hon Robert Doyle, The Chief Executive Officer, Dr Kathy Alexander and Mr. Ian Shears of Urban Landscapes have gone to enormous trouble to have a special sewer line laid to the site, an area at the entrance of the Australian Native Garden cleared of indigenous vegetation and the historic 120 year old pepper tree (known as a "peppercorn") specially cut back to accommodate this stainless-steel, super size toilet block. (It is believed this tree was planted by Francis Meaker the first Park Ranger and Bailiff sometime in the late 19 th century.) The Royal Park Master Plan which recommended a stand of lemon scented gums at this entrance of Royal Park, not a toilet block, has been ignored. The Council has a new policy re toilet blocks and has discarded the old cast iron model, painted Brunswick Green to fit in with the heritage streetscapes and Gardens. Instead we have a stainless steel up to date model. Note that the area behind the toilet block has been cleared to stop any "anti social behavior", to use the Council staff's euphemism. This model and location were apparently given a blessing by the President of the Parkville Association and the Branch Chair of the Australian Garden History Society. Unkind opponents have nicknamed the edifice the "Silver Tomb" and have referred to it as the "biggest blot on the landscape in Melbourne".
Official Opening or Inauguration:
When: 12:30 pm Friday 15 February 2013 Where: In front of "Doyle's Dunny" (the popular name for the toilet block) at the entrance to the Australian Native Garden in Royal Park, Parkville. This is opposite the intersection of Park Drive and Gatehouse Street. Note that it is expected that the toilet block will be open for business next week, according to Council staff. Transport: Tram down Royal Parade to Gatehouse Street stop. This is on the corner with the Walmsley House and the easily recognised huge Golden Elm (on significant tree register.) Parking can be found in Gatehouse Street, on the blue stone semi circular driveway at the entrance of the Australian Native Garden and in surrounding streets. MC: Rod Quantock Acting President of PPL VIC will act as MC. Dress: Smart casual. Decorations may be worn. Contact for enquiries: Julianne Bell Secretary PPL VIC Mobile 0408022408 Photographs 8a is of the front of the toilet block at the entrance to the Australian Native Garden. 7a is the back of the toilet block.(Its not actually on a slope it was the fault of the photographer who did not have a steady hand.)The pepper tree photo taken before works started shows the over-hang which has been removed .. Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. PO Box 197 Parkville 3052
Aussies take action! Lock the gate!" Australians to gather in Brisbane to defend water and land from coal and coal-seam gas fracking, which has already been totally banned in France. (See comments.) On Sunday October 16, 11a.m. Queens Park Cnr George & Elizabeth Sts. Brisbane City. lockthegateqld[AT]gmail.com Facebook: Defend Our Water Qld Tel. 0404 677 781 www.lockthegate.org.au
More information on Fracking
For more information about gas-fracking, see "Fracking democracy - Gaslands- the movie, the industry and national responses." France completely banned all fracking a few months ago and last week it revoked licences given to some companies which tried to demonstrate a new, safer method. The French Government said that there is no safe method of fracking. It is environmentally destructive, socially destructive and dangerous to water catchments.
Contacts and details for Sunday 16 October protests in Brisbane.
Aussies take action! Lock the gate! Defend our water from coal and coal seam gas!
Coal Seam Gas and Coal represent the biggest threat to our precious underground water reserves in our history. On Sunday October 16, join with communities across the country to demand a moratorium until the full social and environmental impacts are known. Gather 11a.m. Queens Park, Cnr George & Elizabeth Sts., Brisbane City.
Facebook: Defend Our Water Qld,
Tel. 0404 677 781
Midday: Anti Desal Plant Rally on steps of parliament, Melbourne. All supporters welcome. After that, go to the Upper House Gallery, Parliament House,and show your support to the Opposition's motion to Overturn Amendment VC71
Anti Desal Plant Rally, Wednesday 6 October, midday until 1.30
Watershed (formerly Your Water, Your Say) – those protesting the now infamous Desal Plant at Wonthaggi, ARE HOLDING A RALLY ON THE STEPS OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE, calling for the very expensive and deeply troubled project to be scrapped. You are enthusiastically invited to support them by being there – after all, its OUR money and OUR future too, not just theirs.
Parliament House – Opposition To Overturn Amendment VC71
Wednesday 6 October (time to be advised but likely afternoon)
Matthew Guy, Shadow Planning, will be moving a motion in the Upper House to get rid of the terrible Amendment VC71 that was approved by Planning Minister Justin Madden last week. VC71 is a terrible amendment and terrible planning which puts Melbourne 2030 across all of Victoria, forcing metro standards on country areas, and makes it obligatory to have high rise and high density across the metro area (these provisions could also be applied in country areas).
Please show your support for getting rid of this horrid amendment by being at Parliament House Upper House gallery if you can. If you haven’t been to parliament before, here’s your chance to see how our democracy works (or not).
Also, please encourage Greg Barber (Greens) greg.barber[at]parliament.vic.gov.au and Peter Kavanagh (DLP) peter.kavanagh[at]parliament.vic.gov.au to support Matthew Guy’s motion by sending a message to both.
Source: Christine Pruneau of Macedon Ranges' Residents Association (MRRA)
Emergency Protest: Stop shooting National Parks
12:00pm, Tuesday 27th October 2009
Outside NSW Parliament, Macquarie Street, Sydney
Bring your signs. Bring your friends.
Speakers include Greens and environment groups.
Tell the Rees government that you won't stand by as they sacrifice our national parks to blood sports. Shooters are not conservationists. Killing native wildlife is their form of recreational pleasure. Only the power of public opposition will remove this legislation from the negotiating table.
National parks preserve our native animals and our heritage. They deserve the highest order of protection. The Shooters' Party is only interested in protecting its own interests, not conservation or the greater public good.
Please email the following MPs and express your strong opposition to any deal that would allow shooting in national parks:
Premier Nathan Rees - thepremier[AT]www.nsw.gov.au
Environment Minister John Robertson - office[AT]robertson.minister.nsw.gov.au
Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell - LOP[AT]parliament.nsw.gov.au
Shadow Environment Minister Catherine Cusack - catherine.cusack[AT]parliament.nsw.gov.au
Christian Democrat, Fred Nile - F.Nile[AT]parliament.nsw.gov.au
Independent, Gordon Moyes - gordon.moyes[AT]parliament.nsw.gov.au
For more information contact Lee Rhiannon's office - 9230 3551 or lee.rhiannon[AT]parliament.nsw.gov.au
Thousands of indigenous people have protested in Peru's Amazon for much of the past 40 days, hoping to pressure President Garcia to modify or strike down a series of laws he passed last year that encourage oil, mining and agricultural companies to invest billions of dollars in the mostly pristine region.
Indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon are protesting investment laws passed under a free-trade pact with the United States and against concessions granted to foreign energy companies. Some 30,000 indigenous people have blockaded roads, rivers and railways to demand repeal of new laws that allow oil, mining and logging companies to enter indigenous territories without seeking consent or even any consultation. Indigenous communities complain that some 70% of Peruvian Amazon territory is now leased for oil and gas exploration, putting at risk their own lives and the biodiversity of the Amazon.
Peruvian state-run producer PetroPeru said earlier that protesters impeded work at pumping stations on the government-run North Peruvian oil pipeline, cutting shipments of crude oil.
The indigenous groups started the demonstrations in April, asking that Congress revoke a series of decrees they say will open their land to mining, logging and oil drilling without consent.
Officials in Peru are quick to point out that this was one of the first Latin American countries to establish local government strategies to curb the loss of biological diversity. "We made it possible in 1999, even before Brazil," María Luisa del Río, the Environment Ministry’s director for biodiversity, told Tierramérica. (www.tierramerica.info)
But experts and critics assure that the biggest problem is implementing those plans in Peru, considered one of the world’s leaders in natural wealth of ecosystems, species, genetic resources and indigenous cultures.
Scientists estimate that Peru is home to some 25,000 plant species, that is, 10 percent of the world total, and to 1,816 bird species. But this great natural heritage has been threatened in recent decades by the extraction of natural resources, and hundreds of species are in danger of extinction.
Between 2002 and 2007, mining concessions grew more than 70 percent due to incentives for foreign investment and high international prices for metals. Meanwhile, protests by indigenous and peasant communities about mining-based pollution also increased.
Indigenous leaders saying President Garcia has disregarded a U.N. declaration that protects their rights to control land and natural resources.
The protests, which have already shut Peru's pipeline that carries oil from the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean, underscore the risks of investing in a country with a poverty rate of 40 percent and a history of discord between wealthy elites in Lima and poor indigenous groups in the countryside. Despite this reality, the President declared that:
"The lands of the Amazon belong ... to all Peruvians and not just a small group that lives there," Garcia said over the weekend. "The riches of Peru belong to all Peruvians."
Garcia decreed most of the laws in question last year using special powers Congress gave him to bring Peru's regulations into line with the requirements of its free-trade pact with the United States.
Garcia, a former leftist who now fervently supports foreign investment, has sold dozens of concessions to foreign energy and mining companies since taking office in 2006. More auctions are planned in a country where mineral exports drive economic growth and the government is working to become self-sufficient in oil production.
(May 31) Truckers burned a weigh station and an official vehicle in northern Peru on Friday to demand government action against Amazon Indians who have been blocking highways in a protest against laws they say threaten their control of ancestral lands, CPN Radio reported.
The reality is that indigenous people will lose their natural heritage to the President, foreign investors, the business elite, but they will end up with nothing!
The Indians have refused to end their protests, despite the initiation of talks with the government on resolving the dispute.
Please add your voice in solidarity with the tens of thousands of indigenous people and their international supporters mobilizing to protect the Peruvian Amazon.
Click here to open rainforestportal to send automated letters of protest.