Australians March to Save Aboriginal Communities

By on 03/19/2015 

By Matthew McLoughlin  @soit_goesAustralia – On March 16, 2015, thousands took action across dozens of cities & smaller regional communities in Australia demanding the government abandon its plan to evict 150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. Major city centers in Brisbane & Melbourne were shut down by massive sit-ins while Perth marched on Parliament. Online people used the hashtag #SOSBlakAustralia to show their support for those taking the streets. The day’s actions were organized by a vast group of Indigenous peoples, community organizations, spear-headed by a small collective going by SOS Blak Australia.

This latest attack on Australia’s Aboriginal communities will create up to 20,000 refugees & add another chapter to the history of the Australian government’s attempted genocide of Indigenous peoples. The closures are being done under the guise of budget cuts, Australia’s racist Prime Minister Tony Abbott has gone as far as saying that the government can no longer fund a “lifestyle choice”, referring to Aboriginal people living on their traditional lands. Truth be told it is Aboriginal people who are being forced to fund the government’s “lifestyle” which continues to rely on exploiting stolen land and resources, including fossil fuels. The price they’ve paid includes not only their land but the attempted destruction of their culture. Continue reading

Ferguson is Familiar to Indigenous Australians

Indigenous Australia knows the cynicism exposed by Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson
Larissa Behrendt, The Guardian , Tuesday 25 November 2014

Watching the events in Ferguson, Indigenous Australians will immediately draw a parallel with Australia’s response to black deaths in custody‘redfern riotWatching the events in Ferguson unfold raises similar questions about Australia’s own legal system.’ Riots in Redfern, 2004. Photograph: AAP

After a Missouri grand jury declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch said that the decision was based upon physical and scientific evidence, not “public outcry or political expediency”.

This call for objectivity does little in a situation where autopsies show Wilson had shot Brown at least six times, twice in the head. McCulloch seemed to compromise his own objectivity by blaming social and news media for beating up a story, rather than acknowledging that when a young person is shot by law enforcement, people expect a level of accountability.

 

Watching the events in Ferguson unfold raises similar questions about Australia’s own legal system. The parallel is immediately drawn with the failure to secure a conviction in the case of 36-year-old Cameron Mulrunji Doomadgee, who died in a Palm Island lockup over 10 years ago.

Continue reading

Philippines: Subic Bay “makeover” as new pivot for US warships

[This year has seen US power beginning to shift its central focus from the middle east to Asia.  In line with this, the Pentagon has been making new deals for military force “visitations” and deployments, from Okinawa to Guam, Australia, and Philippines, along with new force buildups in Hawaii, Taiwan, Korea, and “joint operational and training” arrangements with India, Vietnam and elsewhere.  This article, from Stars and Stripes (US military media) in June, discusses the refurbishing — “makeover” — of Subic Bay, the former and future US navy base in the Philippines. — Frontlines ed.]
By Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes (US military media)

Philippine government gives OK for US to use old bases

Published: June 7, 2012
philippines125

[A Filipino father and son watch the guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin get under way after participating in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Philippines (CARAT) exercise in October, 2010. U.S. and Philippine officials have agreed to expand joint military training in the Philippines, raising the prospect former U.S. bases could be reopened, the Marine Corps Times reported July 17, 2012.  Thomas Brennan/U.S. Navy]

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Philippine government said this week that the United States military is again welcome to use Subic Bay and the sprawling Clark Air Base, two decades after the installations were abandoned due to political friction with Manila, according to media reports.

Philippine Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta said U.S. troops, ships and aircraft can make use of the old bases, as long as prior approval is granted by the government. Azcueta made the comments following a meeting with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who traveled to the country as part of a regional trip to generate support for a military pivot toward Asia, according to the Philippine Star newspaper.

The United States had key bases in the Philippines for decades after World War II, but relations broke down in the early 1990s, and the facilities were returned.

The announcement of an expanded military relationship this week comes after months of talks between Washington and Manila, and appears to be another step forward in the U.S. plan to bolster forces in the Asia-Pacific region.

“They can come here provided they have prior coordination from the government,” Azcueta said following the meeting at the Philippine military headquarters of Camp Aguinaldo in Manila, according to the Philippine Star newspaper. “That’s what we want … increase in exercises and interoperability.” Continue reading

US hegemony-media on the US’ military “pivot” to Asia

[This year has seen US power beginning to shift its central focus from the middle east to Asia.  In line with this, the Pentagon has been making new deals for military force “visitations” and deployments, from Okinawa to Guam, Australia, and Philippines, along with new force buildups in Hawaii, Taiwan, Korea, and “joint operational and training” arrangements with India, Vietnam and elsewhere.  This article, from TIME magazine in July, explores the responses to, and embraces of, these US moves in the Philippines. — Frontlines ed.]

American ‘Pivot’ to Asia Divides the Philippines

Recent trouble in the South China Sea has renewed debate as to whether the U.S. is a trusted friend, or an old foe

By Catherine Traywick , TIME magazine, July 23, 2012

Romeo Ranoco / Reuters — Members of a militant women’s group hold up placards condemning the joint Philippine-U.S. military exercises during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila on April 27, 2012 

Bai Ali Indayla, a human-rights worker and antimilitary activist, has met just one American soldier. They convened at a picnic table inside a Philippine army camp in Mindanao in 2010 to discuss the alleged suicide of a Filipino who died under mysterious circumstances after starting a job with the U.S. military’s counterterrorism program. Indayla believed the death was suspicious, and she wanted answers, but her first and only interaction with a U.S. soldier earned her none. He was dismissive, she says, as well as arrogant and profane. After a brief and terse exchange, he walked out of the meeting without warning, and she walked away with all of her prejudices soundly affirmed.

The encounter, colored by her mistrust and his apparent indifference, reflects an enduring dynamic at play between two forces in Philippine society: the U.S. military, whose decades-long occupation of the islands eventually gave way to civil unrest, and a small but historically significant network of activists who believe the former’s presence is tantamount to neocolonialism. As China more aggressively asserts its claim over the South China Sea and the U.S. ponders a “pivot” to Asia, the gap between these groups seems to widen, calling fresh attention to the question of U.S.-Philippine ties.

The relationship between ordinary Filipinos and U.S. armed forces is a tortured one, dating back to America’s “liberation” of the Philippines from colonial Spain more than a century ago. The U.S. takeover of the Philippines in 1899 kicked off a short, bloody war, during which Filipinos were forced into reconcentrados (a type of concentration camp), massacred in their villages and subjected to a new torture technique now known as waterboarding. When the U.S. finally gave the Philippines its independence in 1945, sprawling American military bases remained — and with them, an exploding sex industry and a legacy of human-rights violations widely publicized by the national press.

A decades-long antimilitary movement culminated in the 1991 closure of American bases and the ousting of U.S. troops. Yet American forces have nevertheless maintained a limited but continuous presence in the country, where they conduct regular joint training exercises and have, in recent years, extended antiterrorism efforts. Dubbed “the second front of the war on terror” in 2002, western Mindanao has played host to 600-strong U.S. troop rotations as they pursue two al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups. Though officially base-less, barracks, ports and communications infrastructure emerged within and near the Philippine military camps that host American soldiers. This year, the Aquino administration granted the U.S. Navy permission to use the former U.S. base in Subic Bay for the service of U.S. warships. Continue reading

Abusive, Xenophobic Detentions, Inc.: A Lucrative Global Growth Industry

September 28, 2011

Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit

By , New York Times

The men showed up in a small town in Australia’s outback early last year, offering top dollar for all available lodgings. Within days, their company, Serco, was flying in recruits from as far away as London, and busing them from trailers to work 12-hour shifts as guards in a remote camp where immigrants seeking asylum are indefinitely detained.

It was just a small part of a pattern on three continents where a handful of multinational security companies have been turning crackdowns on immigration into a growing global industry.

Especially in Britain, the United States and Australia, governments of different stripes have increasingly looked to such companies to expand detention and show voters they are enforcing tougher immigration laws.

Some of the companies are huge — one is among the largest private employers in the world — and they say they are meeting demand faster and less expensively than the public sector could.

Resistance to abusive detention is growing. Here, The Woomera Detention Center, in Australia, was the scene of a detainee breakout in 2002.

But the ballooning of privatized detention has been accompanied by scathing inspection reports, lawsuits and the documentation of widespread abuse and neglect, sometimes lethal. Human rights groups say detention has neither worked as a deterrent nor speeded deportation, as governments contend, and some worry about the creation of a “detention-industrial complex” with a momentum of its own.

“They’re very good at the glossy brochure,” said Kaye Bernard, general secretary of the union of detention workers on the Australian territory of Christmas Island, where riots erupted this year between asylum seekers and guards. “On the ground, it’s almost laughable, the chaos and the inability to function.” Continue reading

Australia: Sydney Peace Medal awarded to WikiLeaks founder

09.05.201Sydney Peace Medal awarded to WikiLeaks founder

Sydney Peace Medal awarded to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

The Sydney Peace Foundation has awarded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange its gold medal for “exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights.”

According to the foundation, the award was given to recognise the need for greater transparency and accountability for governments.

“By challenging centuries-old practices of government secrecy and by championing people’s right to know, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have created the potential for a new order in journalism and in the free flow of information,” said Prof Stuart Rees, director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and founding director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. Continue reading