/please distribute widely

Rally for
Stop the massacre!
End the siege now!
No to Israel's war crimes!

Rally Sunday Jan 4
State Library of Victoria
cnr Swanston St and La Trobe St, Melbourne

Over 385 people have been killed and more than 1700 wounded since Saturday 27 December, when Israel launched air strikes against the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip.

The air strikes come on top of the Israeli imposed blockade which has stopped adequate fuel, food, and medical supplies from reaching the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza.
Rally in solidarity with the people of Gaza, who are standing steadfast in the face of these atrocities.

Please bring placards and banners

For more info call 0439 454 375 or 0418 819 548

There will be a day for the oppressor when he will be crushed like garlic - Palestinian proverb.

Some came and took our land, forced us to leave, forced us to live in camps. I think this is terrorism. Using means to resist this terrorism and stop its effects - this is called struggle." — Leila Khaled

Remember the solidarity shown to Palestine here and everywhere... and remember also that there is a cause to which many people have committed themselves, difficulties and terrible obstacles notwithstanding. Why? Because it is a just cause, a noble ideal, a moral quest for equality and human rights - Edward Said

Nowhere to run for those trapped in Gaza

Palestinian families are wondering whether they will become the next target after four days of Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip.

As Sherine Tadros reports, there are few places to hide, and civilian casualties continue to rise



Free Palestine

Gaza massacres must spur us to action
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 27 December 2008

Palestinians carry the body of a victim of an Israeli air strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 27 December 2008. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

"I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing." Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of Israel's latest massacres were broadcast around the world.

A short time earlier, US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing at least 195 persons and injuring hundreds more. Many of these locations were police stations located, like police stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas. The US government was one of the first to offer its support for Israel's attacks, and others will follow.

Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those Israel labels "terrorists" were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.

Shmerling's joy has been echoed by Israelis and their supporters around the world; their violence is righteous violence. It is "self-defense" against "terrorists" and therefore justified. Israeli bombing -- like American and NATO bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is bombing for freedom, peace and democracy.

The rationalization for Israel's massacres, already being faithfully transmitted by the English-language media, is that Israel is acting in "retaliation" for Palestinian rockets fired with increasing intensity ever since the six-month truce expired on 19 December (until today, no Israeli had been killed or injured by these recent rocket attacks).

But today's horrific attacks mark only a change in Israel's method of killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary medicine by the two year-old Israeli blockade calculated and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians died silently, for want of basic medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from reaching them by Israel.

What the media never question is Israel's idea of a truce. It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.

As John Ging, the head of operations of the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told The Electronic Intifada in November: "there was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food."

That is an Israeli truce. Any response to Israeli attacks -- whether peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in Bilin and Nilin in the West Bank is met with bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel's attacks, killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one single day during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has acceded to all of Israel's demands, even assembling "security forces" to fight the resistance on Israel's behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian or her property or livelihood from Israel's relentless violent colonization. It did not save, for instance, the al-Kurd family from seeing their home of 50 years in occupied East Jerusalem demolished on 9 November, so the land it sits on could be taken by settlers.

Once again we are watching massacres in Gaza, as we did last March when 110 Palestinians, including dozens of children, were killed by Israel in just a few days. Once again people everywhere feel rage, anger and despair that this outlaw state carries out such crimes with impunity.

But all over the Arab media and internet today the rage being expressed is not directed solely at Israel. Notably, it is directed more sharply than ever at Arab states. The images that stick are of Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni in Cairo on Christmas day. There she sat smiling with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then there are the pictures of Livni and Egypt's foreign minister smiling and slapping their palms together.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported today that last wednesday the Israeli "cabinet authorized the prime minister, the defense minister, and the foreign minister to determine the timing and the method" of Israel's attacks on Gaza. Everywhere people ask, what did Livni tell the Egyptians and more importantly what did they tell her? Did Israel get a green light to turn Gaza's streets red once again? Few are ready to give Egypt the benefit of the doubt after it has helped Israel besiege Gaza by keeping the Rafah border crossing closed for more than a year.

On top of the intense anger and sadness so many people feel at Israel's renewed mass killings in Gaza is a sense of frustration that there seem to be so few ways to channel it into a political response that can change the course of events, end the suffering, and bring justice.

But there are ways, and this is a moment to focus on them. Already I have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?

Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it "called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it."

The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) provides the framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

Related Links


NT communities to protest opening of Parliament 2009

22/12/08 for immediate release

NT Aboriginal communities set to Converge on Canberra

Resistance to the Intervention is strengthening across the Northern Territory.

People from NT Aboriginal communities are preparing to take their
protest directly to the federal government on the first day of
parliament, February 3 2009.

On November 7 2008 the Prescribed Area People's alliance, whose
meetings have involved over 150 people living under the Intervention,
issued a statement:

"The NTER must be immediately repealed... We call for everyone who
supports Aboriginal rights to converge on Canberra for the opening of
Parliament in 2009".

The convergence has been endorsed by the full council of Central Land
Council, the key representative body for the 24,000 Aboriginal people
living across the region.

Planning is taking place with Aboriginal rights organisations and
activists around the country for two days of workshops and discussion
at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra on February 1 and 2 before
a major rally on Tuesday February 3.

The NT delegation is also planning to meet with politicians to lobby
for repeal of the Intervention laws and substantially increased
funding for community controlled services.

Valerie Martine, from Yuendumu said, "We need support, more and more,
whoever feels that this Intervention is wrong. We want to see many
people come out to support us and hear their voices. It's really bad
how they're treating us, taking away our rights. With the quarantining
we are struggling to get the money to survive. My daughter has been
sick in the hospital in Adelaide - but because our money's are
quarantined I've had to battle hard, even for basic things like doing
our washing. How are people supposed to survive?"

Elaine Peckham from the Iwupataka Land Trust and the Intervention
Rollback Action Group said, "We've already been through many
struggles, for land rights, for native title. Now we have the
Intervention which has taken control of our communities in the Centre.
It's very discriminatory and very hurtful. It's like a big cloud over
us. Its time for us to say enough is enough, we need to start getting
together and talk up - not on our own but as a voice with everyone
else strong and loud. We can not sit back and let others take control
of our lives. Its going to keep continuing if we don't speak up and
let our voices be heard out there".

For more information, or to arrange Interviews, please contact:

Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166 or Marlene Hodder 08 8952 5032
Email: rollbacktheintervention(*)gmail.com

see rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com for updates on the Canberra


Boxing Day Benefit Gig for Lex Wotton

Upcoming benefit gig for Lex in Melbourne:
(organised by Weemptyrooms and A whole bunch of other angry people)

Lex Wotton is doing jail time for standing up for his community and demanding to know the truth about the death of his friend and fellow resident, Mulrunji Doomadgee. This fundraiser aims to raise money to support him and his family through his time in prison.

At the Old Bar, 74-76 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Friday December 26th, Boxing Day

Doors 5pm. $10 Entry. BBQ at 8pm.

Matt Stabs
Blackie (Hard Ons)
Elise & Jem
Foreign Magicians
Wicked City

and check out to the right of this post a deadly web badge made by our brother The Angry Indian


Howard Broad Poaka Fraud

Video evidence collected at demonstrations in Wellington as recently as last week expose Police Commissioner Howard Broad as a bold-faced liar notes Michael Medved, spokesperson for the Justice NOW! Collective

Howard Broads precise words were that they "Were not interested in the to-ings and fro-ings of protest groups who might be wanting to stand outside a building and put placards up or do all the sorts of things you associate with lawful protest in a free and democratic society."

Watch this video and see for yourself that Howard Broad is simply not telling the truth. said Dr Medved.

A solidarity demonstration outside of the Greek Embassy in Wellington on Friday 12 December (immediately before the revelations about informant Rob Gilchrist) was heavily surveilled, videoed and photographed by police staff simply for standing outside the embassy with banners. Everyone at the picket was a target of the police photographer, uniformed police and the diplomatic protection squad. A similar demonstration outside the annual weapons conference in Wellington in October was surveilled by both police and intelligence contract agents from security firm Thompson and Clark who are working closely with police to target and exploit activists. This is the normal behaviour of police, not some exceptional circumstance.

The sole purpose of this police surveillance is to gather intelligence on political action and activity. Frankly, it smacks of a police state. The Police Commissioner should resign and the SIG should be disbanded immediately for this grotesque intrusion into legitimate political activity concluded Dr Michael Medved of Justice NOW!


SHAC goes to the supreme court - 210 William St in the city

So on Thursday the occupiers of 272-278 Faraday St got served with notice that the University has gone to the supreme court to 'recover the land' at 272-278 Faraday St under order 53 . The hearing will take place on monday morning.

Please come to a protest out the front of the court from 9.30 am and then if you want come into the court for the hearing which will start at 10.30am.

Bring banners, placards and colour. Also if the feeling takes you please dress up in drag.

210 William St in the city

SHAC will be seeking an adjournment of this hearing so there is a chance
it will be delayed. The protest will go ahead regardless.


Cops Kill Everywhere II

International Day of Action Against Murder by the State

Saturday 20/12/08, 1pm

Victorian State Gubbament

Remembering all state murders, particularly indigenous deaths in custody and in solidarity with the struggle in Greece. Bring photos of those killed, dress in old clothes if you wish to be part of the die-in


International Day of Action Against Murder by the State
Saturday, December 20, 2008 : 11 am
Greek Consulate
223 Castlereagh St, Sydney


Solidarity With Uprising in Greece
Remember Those Killed by the State
No More Deaths in Custody
Free Lex Wotton

River of Tears: Drones cover Kev Carmody



A powerful film about deaths in police custody in the UK, featuring the poet Benjamin Zepheniah


Solidarity with Greece in Aotearoa

A beautiful slogan is echoing across the city: “ο λαός θα πεί την τελευταία λέξη/ αυτές οι νύχτες είναι του αλέξη” - “the people will have the last word/ these are Alexis’ nights”.

solidemo greece.jpg
Click on image for a larger version


This is an urgent call to solidarity with those who are struggling in Greece.

"Students are injured inside the university of Thessaloniki, shot at with rubber bullets. In Athens, riot police beat senseless another 15-year old boy in front of shocked passers-by begging them to stop. And yet, the police have already lost control. Trapped between trying to avoid a second (surely catastrophic) death yet equipped with the single technique they possess in handling the demonstrators – sheer violence. The government, a sorry get-together of more talking heads on the TV, locked up in meeting rooms, one emergency cabinet meeting after the other. A dead government standing. The question is not if – the question is just about how it will fall." from www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/

Repression intensifies to extreme levels as some 45,000 police are mobilised to crush protesters across Greece. In Patras and other cities eye witness reports claim fascist are actively engaged with riot police using tear gas, beating and arresting protesters. Plain clothed officers are reportedly in abundance and that police infiltrators of protest groups are smashing and looting local businesses in a divide and conquer tactic.

Those who struggle for freedom in Greece need us now more than ever, to show our support and stand in solidarity with them.

Wellington, midday, Friday 12th of December: to the Greek Embassy in protest of the disgusting human rights abuses and terrorism the police and government are using against the people. Freedom for the detained!

Come along, bring you're friends, be prepared to express yourself, wear a mask if you wish to avoid being identified.


Media Release Solidarity with Greece: Rally for Alexandros Grigoropoulos

On Saturday 6th of December at around 10pm, two Greek policemen were in patrol in a central street by Exarchia square, in the center of Athens. They had a verbal argument with some young people who were there. During the argument, one of the cops pulled his gun and shot a 16-year-old minor twice. The victim was moved to Evangelismos Hospital to be pronounced dead. According to eye-witnesses, the cop had been swearing against the young boy, and showing his genitals, before shooting him.

In a spontaneous response, thousands of people gathered in the centers of most Greek cities over the past three days in riots. In Athens, people gathered outside Evangelismos Hospital, in order to prevent the cops from entering the building. A little later the riot police attacked in a street in Exarchia resulting in one person being arrested. The evening in Athens evolved with a spontaneous assembly in the Polytechnic University, many rioted in the center of Athens, including attacks against police departments and banks, until the early hours of the next morning. Meanwhile, a spontaneous demonstration took place, but it was confronted by the riot police with tear gas. Rallies, demonstrations, direct actions and riots took place all around the country.

Solidarity actions have already been held around Greece, in London, Edinburgh, Berlin, and Vienna.

There is a planned rally/vigil for Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Melbourne – the city with the biggest Greek population outside of Greece:

Saturday, 13th December, 2008
1:00PM outside the Greek Consulate
37-29 Albert Road, South Melbourne (take St Kilda Rd trams)


THE STATE MURDERS - communique by the Polytechnic School Occupation in Athens




On Saturday December 6, 2008, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year old comrade, was murdered in cold blood, with a bullet in the chest by a cop in the area of Exarchia.

Contrary to the statements of politicians and journalists who are accomplices to the murder, this was not an “isolated incident”, but an explosion of the state repression which systematically and in an organised manner targets those who resist, those who revolt, the anarchists and anti-authoritarians.

It is the peak of state terrorism which is expressed with the upgrading of the role of repressive mechanisms, their continuous armament, the increasing levels of violence they use, with the doctrine of “zero tolerance”, with the slandering media propaganda that criminalises those who are fighting against authority.

It is these conditions that prepare the ground for the intensification of repression, attempting to extract social consent beforehand, and arming the weapons of state murderers in uniform!

Lethal violence against the people in the social and class struggle is aiming at everybody’s submission, serving as exemplary punishment, meant to spread fear.

It is part of the wider attack of the state and the bosses against the entire society, in order to impose more rigid conditions of exploitation and oppression, to consolidate control and repression.

From school and universities to the dungeons of waged slavery with the hundreds of dead workers in the so-called “working accidents” and the poverty embracing large numbers of the population… From the minefields in the borders, the pogroms and the murders of immigrants and refugees to the numerous “suicides” in prisons and police stations… from the “accindental shootings” in police blockades to violent repression of local resistances, Democracy is showing its teeth!

From the first moment after the murder of Alexandros, spontaneous demonstrations and riots burst in the center of Athens, the Polytechnic, the Economic and the Law Schools are being occupied and attacks against state and capitalist targets take place in many different neighborhoods and in the city centre.

Demonstrations, attacks and clashes erupt in Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Chania and Heraklion in Crete, in Giannena, Komotini and many more cities. In Athens, in Patission street –outside the Polytechnic and the Economic School- clashes last all night. Outside the Polytechnic the riot police make use of plastic bullets.

On Sunday the 7th December, thousands of people demonstrate towards the police headquarters in Athens, attacking the riot police. Clashes of unprecedented tension spread in the streets of the city centre, lasting until late at night.

Many demonstrators are injured and a number of them are arrested.

We continue the occupation of the Polytechnic School which started on Saturday night, creating a space for all people who fighting to gather, and one more permanent focus of resistance in the city.

In the barricades, the university occupations, the demonstrations and the assemblies we keep alive the memory of Alexandros, but also the memory of Michalis Kaltezas and of all the comrades who were murdered by the state, strengthening the struggle for a world without masters and slaves, without police, armies, prisons and borders.

The bullets of the murderers in uniform, the arrests and beatings of demonstrators, the chemical gas war launched by the police forces, not only cannot manage to impose fear and silence, but they become for the people the reason to raise against state terrorism the cries of the struggle for freedom, to abandon fear and to meet –more and more every day- in the streets of revolt. To let the rage overflow and drown them!



We are sending our solidarity to everyone occupying universities, demonstrating and clashing with the state murderers all over the country.

The Occupation of the Polytechnic University in Athens

see also: Athens Indymedia Centre


An Uncertain Future

An uncertain future from Pacific Black Box Inc on Vimeo.

A documentary made by young people in Bougainville earlier this year (2008), at a forum organised by Pacific Black Box Inc in conjunction with local NGOs. Some of the youth involved were from the Cartaret Islands, whose land is sinking under the ocean and who are being relocated on mainland Bougainville. The project aimed to give a voice to these young people about their situation and climate change.For more information please visit PBB's website at :

Rally at ABCC headquarters - Melbourne - 2 December

Thousands of unionists and supporters rallied at the St Kilda Road headquarters of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, demanding its abolition and celebrating the dropping of charges against union official Noel Washington, who had been facing a jail term for refusing to attend a hearing of the commission.

The rally heard from a succession of speakers and ended with thunderous chants, captured here by a still camera - hence the low resolution.

There is a also a report with photos on the website of the Victorian Trades Hall Council:

and http://melbourneprotests.wordpress.com/

thanks to PC

West Papua Independence Day 2008

West Papua Independence Day 2008 A protest at the gates of Indonesian Consulate in Melbourne

Prescribed Area People’s Alliance

video clips from the “Prescribed Area People’s Alliance” meeting, held in Mparntwe - Alice Springs on Monday September 29, 2008


Indigenous peoples lash out at WTO inequities

Protests in the streets of Seattle outside the recent World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting were so severe and feelings ran so high that proceedings were almost aborted. The Indigenous Peoples' Seattle Declaration which follows makes it abundantly clear why so many concerned people were compelled to make a stand

on the occasion of the

Third Ministerial Meeting of the
World Trade Organisation
November 30 - December 3, 1999

We, the Indigenous peoples from various regions of the world, have come to Seattle to express our great concern over how the World Trade Organisation is destroying Mother Earth and the cultural and biological diversity of which we are a part.

Trade liberalisation and export-oriented development, which are the overriding principles and policies pushed by the WTO, are creating the most adverse impacts on the lives of Indigenous peoples. Our inherent right to self-determination, our sovereignty as nations, and treaties and other constructive agreements which Indigenous nations and peoples have negotiated with other nation-states, are undermined by most of the WTO agreements. The disproportionate impact of these agreements on our communities, whether through environmental degradation or the militarisation and violence that often accompanies development projects, is serious and therefore should be addressed immediately.

The WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AOA), which promotes export competition and import liberalisation, has allowed the entry of cheap agricultural products into our communities. It is causing the destruction of ecologically rational and sustainable agricultural practices of Indigenous peoples.

Food security and the production of traditional food crops have been seriously compromised. Incidents of diabetes, cancers, and hypertension have significantly increased among Indigenous peoples because of the scarcity of traditional foods and the dumping of junk food into our communities.

Small-scale farm production is giving way to commercial cash-crop plantations, further concentrating ancestral lands into the hands of a few agri-corporations and landlords. This has led to the dislocation of scores of people from our communities who then migrate to nearby cities and become the urban homeless and jobless.

The WTO Forests Products Agreement promotes free trade in forest products. By eliminating developed country tariffs on wood products by the year 2000, and developing country tariffs by 2003, the Agreement will result in the deforestation of many of the world's ecosystems in which Indigenous peoples live.

Mining laws in many countries are being changed to allow free entry of foreign mining corporations, to enable them to buy and own mineral lands, and to freely displace Indigenous peoples from their ancestral territories. These large-scale commercial mining and oil extraction activities continue to degrade our lands and fragile ecosystems, and pollute the soil, water, and air in our communities.

The appropriation of our lands and resources and the aggressive promotion of consumerist and individualistic Western culture continue to destroy traditional lifestyles and cultures. The result is not only environmental degradation but also ill health, alienation, and high levels of stress manifested in high rates of alcoholism and suicides.

The theft and patenting of our biogenetic resources is facilitated by the TRIPs (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) of the WTO. Some plants which Indigenous peoples have discovered, cultivated, and used for food, medicine, and for sacred rituals are already patented in the United States, Japan, and Europe. A few examples of these are ayahuasca, quinoa, and sangre de drago in forests of South America; kava in the Pacific; and turmeric and bitter melon in Asia. Our access and control over our biological diversity and control over our traditional knowledge and intellectual heritage are threatened by the TRIPs Agreement.

Article 27.3b of the TRIPs Agreement allows the patenting of life-forms and makes an artificial distinction between plants, animals, and micro-organisms. The distinction between "essentially biological" and "non-biological" and "microbiological" processes is also erroneous. As far as we are concerned, all these are life-forms and life-creating processes which are sacred and which should not become the subject of private property ownership.

Finally, the liberalisation of investments and the service sectors, which is pushed by the General Agreement of Services (GATS), reinforces the domination and monopoly control of foreign corporations over strategic parts of the economy. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund impose conditionalities of liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation on countries caught in the debt trap. These conditionalities are reinforced further by the WTO.

In light of the adverse impacts and consequences of the WTO agreements identified above, we Indigenous peoples present the following demands:

We urgently call for a social and environmental justice analysis which will look into the agreements' cumulative effects on Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples should be equal participants in establishing the criteria and indicators for these analyses so that they take into consideration spiritual as well as cultural aspects.

A review of the agreements should be carried out to address all of the inequities and imbalances which adversely affect Indigenous peoples. The proposals to address some of these are as follows:

  1. For the Agreement on Agriculture
    1. It should not include in its coverage small-scale farmers who are mainly engaged in production for domestic use and sale in the local markets.
    2. It should ensure the recognition and protection of rights of Indigenous peoples to their territories and their resources, as well as their rights to continue practising their Indigenous sustainable agriculture and resource management practices and traditional livelihoods.
    3. It should ensure the food security and the capacity of Indigenous peoples to produce, consume and trade their traditional foods.

  2. With regard to the liberalisation of services and investments we recommend the following:
    1. It must stop unsustainable mining, commercial planting of monocrops, dam construction, oil exploration, land conversion to golf courses, logging, and other activities which destroy Indigenous peoples' lands and violate the rights of Indigenous peoples to their territories and resources.
    2. The right of Indigenous peoples to their traditional lifestyles, cultural norms and values should likewise be recognised and protected.
    3. The liberalisation of services, especially in the areas of health, should not be allowed if it will prevent Indigenous peoples from having access to free, culturally appropriate and quality health services.
    4. The liberalisation of finance services which makes the world a global casino should be regulated.

  3. On the TRIPs Agreement, the proposals are as follows:
    1. Article 27.3b should be amended to categorically disallow the patenting of life-forms. It should clearly prohibit the patenting of micro-organisms, plants, animals, including all their parts, whether they are genes, gene sequences, cells, cell lines, proteins, or seeds.
    2. It should also prohibit the patenting of natural processes, whether these are biological or microbiological, involving the use of plants, animals and micro-organisms and their parts in producing variations of plants, animals and micro-organisms.
    3. It should ensure the exploration and development of alternative forms of protection outside of the dominant Western intellectual property rights regime. Such alternatives must protect the knowledge and innovations and practices in agriculture, health care, and conservation of biodiversity, and should build upon Indigenous methods and customary laws protecting knowledge, heritage and biological resources.
    4. It should ensure that the protection offered to Indigenous and traditional knowledge, innovation and practices is consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity (ie Articles 8j, 10c, 17.2, and 18.4) and the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources.
    5. It should allow for the right of Indigenous peoples and farmers to continue their traditional practices of saving, sharing and exchanging seeds, and cultivating, harvesting and using medicinal plants.
    6. It should prohibit scientific researchers and corporations from appropriating and patenting Indigenous seeds, medicinal plants, and related knowledge about these life-forms. The principles of prior informed consent and right of veto by Indigenous peoples should be respected.

  4. If the earlier proposals cannot be ensured, we call for the removal of the Agreement on Agriculture, the Forest Products Agreements and the TRIPs Agreement from the WTO.

  5. We call on the member-states of the WTO not to allow for another round whilst the review and rectification of the implementation of existing agreements has not been done. We reject the proposals for an investment treaty, competition, accelerated industrial tariffs, government procurement, and the creation of a working group on biotechnology.

  6. We urge the WTO to reform itself to become democratic, transparent and accountable. If it fails to do this, we call for the abolishment of the WTO.

  7. We urge the member nation-states of the WTO to endorse the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the current text of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ratification of ILO Convention l69.

  8. We call on the peoples' organisations and NGOs [non-government organisations] to support this "Indigenous Peoples' Seattle Declaration" and to promote it among their members.

  9. We believe that the whole philosophy underpinning the WTO agreements and the principles and policies it promotes contradict our core values, spirituality and world views, as well as our concepts and practices of development, trade and environmental protection. Therefore, we challenge the WTO to redefine its principles and practices towards a "sustainable communities" paradigm, and to recognise and allow for the continuation of other world views and models of development.

Indigenous peoples, undoubtedly, are the ones most adversely affected by globalisation and by the WTO agreements. However, we believe that it is also us who can offer viable alternatives to the dominant economic growth, export-oriented development model. Our sustainable lifestyles and cultures, traditional knowledge, cosmologies, spirituality, values of collectivity, reciprocity, respect and reverence for Mother Earth, are crucial in the search for a transformed society where justice, equity, and sustainability will prevail.

Declaration by the
Indigenous Peoples' Caucus

convened and sponsored by
Indigenous Environmental Network
Seventh Generation Fund

in alliance with
TEBTEBBA (Indigenous Peoples' Network
for Policy Research and Education)
International Indian Treaty Council
Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism
Abya Yala Fund


FADED by Tiki and Pdigsss

Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex

By Angela Davis

Race, Prison and Politics in Australia

By Chris Cunneen

The following article by Angela Davis raises fundamental issues in relation to current trends in imprisonment in Australia. These insights need however to be placed within the context of the specific relationship which exists between Indigenous people and the criminal justice system in Australia. Davis draws our attention to the racialized assumptions about criminality prevalent in the US. In the Australian context, racialized assumptions about Aboriginal inferiority have been fundamental to the way Indigenous people have been treated by the colonial state: from the denial of Indigenous sovereignty, to imprisonment on reserves and the stealing of children, to current criminal law and practice which undermines Aboriginal governance and rights to self-determination. In contemporary Australia, racialization has enabled the massive criminalisation and imprisonment of Indigenous people throughout the country.

Prison privatization is a major issue in Australia too, as demonstrated by the announcement in early 1999 that the US Corrections Corporation Wackenhut is to build a new prison in Western Australia. Yet we should not ignore the fact that public prison construction also goes on unabated. In June 1999, it was announced that two new public prisons in New South Wales are to be constructed.

We should however note that there is no necessary direct correlation in Australia between States with high levels of Aboriginal imprisonment and high levels of privatization – yet. Victoria, for instance, has the highest level of privatization, but a relatively low rate of Indigenous imprisonment compared to Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales.

Prison numbers are influenced by both penal and sentencing policy, and particular sentencing policies can have foreseeable discriminatory impacts on political and racial minorities. We can accurately predict that the type of mandatory imprisonment legislation introduced in the Northern Territory[1] will disproportionately impact on Aboriginal people because they are more likely to have a previous record and are more likely to be arrested for the types of offences defined in the legislation (such as property damage). Interestingly, fraud was excluded in the Northern Territory as a property crime punishable by mandatory imprisonment.

The move towards mandatory sentencing in Australia has been mild compared to the types of mandatory sentences imposed in the USA for drug offences and other ‘three-strike’ classified offences. Yet the movement towards this type of sentencing is gathering speed here at the very time that it is being questioned in the US because of its extraordinarily unjust and racist outcomes.[2]

Over the last decade in Australia we have seen a seemingly inexorable rise in the number of Indigenous people in prison.[3] Imprisonment rates for non-Aboriginal people have increased as well – but not nearly so rapidly. We have also witnessed further penetration of international corporations into the economies of the Australian prison.[4] Although Victoria stands as an example of a highly privatised jurisdiction (with nearly half of its inmates in private facilities), we have still not gone as far down the road as the US in terms of integrating the prison system into the broader capitalist economy. Nor have we embarked on the same level of punitive sentencing policies. But the signs are there for anyone who cares to see.

Chris Cunneen is Director of the Institute of Criminology at the Sydney University Law School.

Masked Racism:
Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex

Imprisonment has become the response of first resort for far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems are often veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category 'crime' and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.

Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. Or rather the people who continually vote in new prison proposals and tacitly assent to a proliferating network of prisons and jails have been tricked into believing in the magic of imprisonment. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business.

The seeming effortlessness of magic always conceals an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes work. When prisons disappear human beings in order to convey the illusion of solving social problems, penal infrastructures must be created to accommodate a rapidly swelling population of caged people. Goods and services must be provided to keep imprisoned populations alive. Sometimes these populations must be kept busy and at other times - particularly in repressive super-maximum prisons and in Immigration and Naturalisation Service detention centers - they must be deprived of virtually all meaningful activity. Vast numbers of handcuffed and shackled people are moved across state borders as they are transferred from one state or federal prison to another.

All this work, which used to be the primary province of government, is now also performed by private corporations, whose links to government in the field of what is euphemistically called 'corrections' resonate dangerously with the military industrial complex. The dividends that accrue from investment in the punishment industry, like those that accrue from investment in weapons production, only amount to social destruction. Taking into account the structural similarities and profitability of business-government linkages in the realms of military production and public punishment, the expanding penal system can now be characterized as a 'prison industrial complex.'

The Colour of Imprisonment

Almost two million people are currently locked up in the immense network of US prisons and jails. More than 70 percent of the imprisoned population are people of color. It is rarely acknowledged that the fastest growing group of prisoners are black women and that Native American prisoners are the largest group per capita. Approximately five million people-including those on probation and parole-are directly under the surveillance of the criminal justice system.

Three decades ago, the imprisoned population was approximately one-eighth its current size. While women still constitute a relatively small percentage of people behind bars, today the number of incarcerated women in California alone is almost twice what the nationwide women's prison population was in 1970. According to Elliott Currie:

[t]he prison has become a looming presence in our society to an extent unparalleled in our history-or that of any other industrial democracy. Short of major wars, mass incarceration has
been the most thoroughly implemented government social program of our time.

To deliver up bodies destined for profitable punishment, the political economy of prisons relies on racialized assumptions of criminality - such as images of black welfare mothers reproducing criminal children - and on racist practices in arrest, conviction, and sentencing patterns. Colored bodies constitute the main human raw material in this vast experiment to disappear the major social problems of our time. Once the aura of magic is stripped away from the imprisonment solution, what is revealed is racism, class bias, and the parasitic seduction of capitalist profit. The prison industrial system materially and morally impoverishes its inhabitants and devours the social wealth needed to address the very problems that have led to spiraling numbers of prisoners.

As prisons take up more and more space on the social landscape, other government programs that have previously sought to respond to social needs - such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families - are being squeezed out of existence. The deterioration of public education, including prioritizing discipline and security over learning in public schools located in poor communities, is directly related to the prison 'solution.'

Profiting from Prisoners

As prisons proliferate in US society, private capital has become enmeshed in the punishment industry. And precisely because of their profit potential, prisons are becoming increasingly important to the US economy. If the notion of punishment as a source of potentially stupendous profits is disturbing by itself, then the strategic dependence on racist structures and ideologies to render mass punishment palatable and profitable is even more troubling.

Prison privatization is the most obvious instance of capital's current movement toward the prison industry. Government-run prisons are often in gross violation of international human rights standards. However, private prisons are even less accountable than governments ones. In March 1999, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest US private prison company, claimed 54,944 beds in 68 facilities under contract or development in the US, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Following the global trend of subjecting more women to public punishment, CCA recently opened a women's prison outside Melbourne. The company recently identified California as its 'new frontier.'

Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC), the second largest US prison company, claimed contracts and awards to manage 46 facilities in North America, UK, and Australia. It boasts a total of 30,424 beds as well as contracts for prisoner health care services, transportation, and security. The stocks of both CCA and WCC have done extremely well recently. Between 1996 and 1997, CCA's revenues increased by 58 percent, from $293 million to $462 million. Its net profit grew from $30.9 million to $53.9 million. WCC raised its revenues from $138 million in 1996 to $210 million in 1997. Unlike public correctional facilities, the vast profits of these private facilities rely on the employment of non-union labor.

The Prison Industrial Complex

But private prison companies are only the most visible component of the increasing corporatization of punishment. Government contracts to build prisons have bolstered the construction industry. The architectural community has identified prison design as a major new niche. Technology developed for the military by companies like Westinghouse are being marketed for use in law enforcement and punishment.

Moreover, corporations that appear to be far removed from the business of punishment are intimately involved in the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Prison construction bonds are one of the many sources of profitable investment for leading financiers such as Merrill Lynch. One American telecommunications company charges prisoners and their families outrageous prices for the precious telephone calls which are often the only contact prisoners have with the free world.

Many corporations whose products we consume on a daily basis have learned that prison labor power can be as profitable as third world labor power exploited by US -based global corporations. Both relegate formerly unionized workers to joblessness and many even wind up in prison. Some of the companies that use prison labor are IBM, Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Boeing. But it is not only the hi-tech industries that reap the profits of prison labor. Nordstrom department stores sell jeans that are marketed as 'Prison Blues,' as well as t-shirts and jackets made in Oregon prisons. The advertising slogan for these clothes is 'made on the inside to be worn on the outside.' Maryland prisoners inspect glass bottles and jars used by Revlon and Pierre Cardin, and schools throughout the world buy graduation caps and gowns made by South Carolina prisoners.

'For private business,' write Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans (a political prisoner inside the Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin, California) 'prison labor is like a pot of gold'. No strikes. No union organizing. No health benefits, unemployment insurance, or workers' compensation to pay. No language barriers, as in foreign countries. New leviathan prisons are being built on thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines, waterbeds, and lingerie -all at a fraction of the cost of 'free labor.'

Devouring the Social Wealth

Although prison labor - which ultimately is compensated at a rate far below the minimum wage - is hugely profitable for the private companies that use it, the penal system as a whole does not produce wealth. It devours the social wealth that could be used to subsidize housing for the homeless, to ameliorate public education for poor and racially marginalized communities, to open free drug rehabilitation programs for people who wish to kick their habits, to create a national health care system, to expand programs to combat HIV, to eradicate domestic abuse, and in the process, to create well-paying jobs for the unemployed.

Since 1984, more than twenty new prisons have opened in California, while only one new campus was added to the California State University system and none to the University of California system. In 1996-97, higher education received only 8.7 percent of the State's General Fund while corrections received 9.6 percent. Now that affirmative action has been declared illegal in California, it is obvious that education is increasingly reserved for certain people, while prisons are reserved for others. Five times as many black men are presently in prison as in four year colleges and universities. This new segregation has dangerous implications for the entire country.

By segregating people labeled as criminals, prison simultaneously fortifies and conceals the structural racism of the US economy. Claims of low unemployment rates-even in black communities-make sense only if one assumes that the vast numbers of people in prison have really disappeared and thus have no legitimate claims to jobs. The numbers of black and Latino men currently incarcerated amount to two percent of the male labor force. According to criminologist David Downes:

[t]reating incarceration as a type of hidden unemployment may raise the jobless rate for men by about one-third, to 8 percent. The effect on the black labor force is greater still, raising the [black] male unemployment rate from 11 percent to 19 percent.

Hidden Agenda

Mass incarceration is not a solution to unemployment, nor is it a solution to the vast array of social problems that are hidden away in a rapidly growing network of prisons and jails. However, the great majority of people have been tricked into believing in the efficacy of imprisonment, even though the historical record clearly demonstrates that prisons do not work. Racism has undermined our ability to create a popular critical discourse to contest the ideological trickery that posits imprisonment as key to public safety. The focus of state policy is rapidly shifting from social welfare to social control.

Black, Latino, Native American, and many Asian youth are portrayed as the purveyors of violence, traffickers of drugs, and as envious of commodities that they have no right to possess. Young black and Latina women are represented as sexually promiscuous and as indiscriminately propagating babies and poverty. Criminality and deviance are racialized. Surveillance is thus focused on communities of color, immigrants, the unemployed, the under-educated, the homeless, and in general on those who have a diminishing claim to social resources. Their claim of social resources continues to diminish in large part because law enforcement and penal measures increasingly devour these resources. The prison industrial complex has thus

created a vicious cycle of punishment which only further impoverishes those whose impoverishment is supposedly 'solved' by imprisonment.

Therefore, as the emphasis of government policy shifts from social welfare to crime control, racism sinks more deeply into the economic and ideological structures of US society. Meanwhile, conservative crusaders against affirmative action and bilingual education proclaim the end of racism, while their opponents suggest that racism's remnants can be dispelled through dialogue and conversation. But conversations about 'race relations' will hardly dismantle a prison industrial complex that thrives on and nourishes the racism hidden within the deep structures of our society.

The emergence of a US prison industrial complex within a context of cascading conservatism marks a new historical moment, whose dangers are unprecedented. But so are its opportunities. Considering the impressive number of grassroots projects that continue to resist the expansion of the punishment industry, it ought to be possible to bring these efforts together to create radical and nationally visible movements that can legitimize anti-capitalist critiques of the prison industrial complex. It ought to be possible to build movements in defense of prisoners' human rights and movements that persuasively argue that what we need is not new prisons, but new health care, housing, education, drug programs, jobs, and education. To safeguard a democratic future, it is possible and necessary to weave together the many and increasing strands of resistance to the prison industrial complex into a powerful movement for social transformation.

Angela Davis is Professor in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California and is also a former political prisoner and long-time prison activist. She visited Australia for the first time in May last year as a guest of the Sydney Writers Festival. On her trip, she also visited Mulawa Women' Detention Centre in Sydney and met a group of Indigenous women active in prison reform. She is currently working on a history of the penal system which will also discuss prisons in Australia.(see (1999) 4 (21) ILB 31. Angela Davis' article is reprinted from the US magazine Colorlines.

[1] National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, Bringing Them Home (1997) 528. Cf also George Zdenkowski, 'Mandatory Imprisonment of Property Offenders in the Northern Territory', (1998) 4 (17) ILB 15; 'New Challenge to NT Mandatory Sentencing' (1999) 4 (18) ILB 16; C Thomson, 'Preventing Crime or "Warehousing" the Underprivileged? Mandatory Sentencing in the Northern Territory', (1999) 4 (26) ILB 4.

[2] M Tonry, Malign Neglect (1995).

[3] C Cunneen and D McDonald, Keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Out of Custody (1997) especially Chapter 2.

[4] See the special issue on prisons and privatization in Australia in (1999) 11 (2) Current Issues in Criminal Justice.

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BHP is expanding roxby downs uranium mine so we decided to go to the AGM to tell them to shut it down..

thanks to


Rally in support of S.H.A.C. - 28 November 2008

Students occupying houses in Faraday Street, Carlton, owned by the University of Melbourne were given until 5pm on Friday 28 November to leave voluntarily or face eviction. A rally called for 12 noon on the day drew support from students, unionists and the general community.

Text of call-out from S.H.A.C. - the Student Housing Action Co-operative/Collective:

Call out for support of the Student Housing Action Cooperative (SHAC).

SHAC is a collective of students and supporters who have been occupying four vacant buildings owned by the University of Melbourne for nearly four months in a campaign to secure affordable student housing, starting with turning the occupied buildings into a student run housing cooperative. There's a critical shortage of housing in inner city Melbourne with a vacancy rate of less than 1% and rents still going up at astronomical rates. Low- income students are spending more than 40% of their incomes on rent. International students are particularly affected by the lack of affordable housing mostly being offered accommodation in overpriced apartments without legal rights due to exemptions from the Residential Tenancies Act. Now SHAC is facing eviction. Melbourne Uni have asked us to 'voluntarily' leave on the 28th (reminiscent of their staff voluntary redundancy offers, perhaps?). We're not planning on going anywhere (unless they hand us the keys to another property). Community support has always been the backbone of our campaign and we won't be able to win without it. So come along and show your support for SHAC and the affordable student housing cause. Rally out the front of SHAC 272-278 Faraday Street, Carlton, Friday 28th November 12pm.

Support also came in the form of a letter to university vice-chancellor Glyn Davis from Brian Boyd, secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, threatening serious consequences on the part of the union movement if the students were evicted. An attempt was made to deliver a copy of this letter to the vice-chancellor in person, without success.

S.H.A.C. has a website at http://shacmelbourne.blogspot.com/