Six years after the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, an estimated 650 Tamil political prisoners remain imprisoned in Sri Lanka, indefinitely, and without charge:
They are being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allows the security forces to detain people for up to 18 months without bringing them before a court.
But some have been jailed since 1997.
The UN’s human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said in a landmark report last month that the government had acknowledged holding 258 men and women under the PTA but only 54 of them had been convicted of anything.
Nearly 30 prisoners of varied ethnicities died in prisons during rioting in 2012. – BBC, 12 Oct 2015.
Expectations that Tamil political prisoners would be either released, or charged and tried, had been raised as a result of recent political changes in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s war time authoritarian leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa, lost to Maithripala Sirisena in January elections in Sri Lanka:
“the country’s numerical minorities voted overwhelmingly for Sirisena during January’s presidential election” – The Diplomat, October 19.
With the war apparently over, it would seem reasonable to demand that war-time powers be repealed:
“A range of people and groups (both on the island and abroad) have been demanding that the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) be repealed for quite some time. The legislation gives the country’s state security personnel wide-ranging authority to search, arrest and detain people; without a doubt, the law has had a disproportionately negative effect on the nation’s Tamil community” – The Diplomat, October 19.
After nine months of political inaction, Tamil prisoners began an indefinite hunger strike in early October. By October 12 President Sirisena had promised to address the status of Tamil prisoners:
Tamil political prisoners who began a fast unto death six days ago demanding their release, suspended their protest temporarily yesterday after receiving a written assurance from President Maithripala Sirisena to solve the issue of their detention prior to 7 November. – Ceylon Today, 18 October
It now appears that the Sirisena government has reneged on it’s commitments to address the status of Tamil prisoners:
The Srisena regime has announced that it will not release most of the Tamil political prisoners who have been languishing in the jails and detention centres in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe announced on Friday only 32 prisoners will be released by 9th November.
Reacting to the announcement from Colombo, Tamil political prisoners said to Ceylon Today:
“We shall launch another ‘fast unto death’ if the President fails to adhere to his promises, as mentioned in the letter, before 7 November. This is the only way we have chosen to find a solution to our burning problem. President Sirisena will be held accountable for our deaths during the hunger strike. President Sirisena will be responsible for our vital organs. He should take responsibility to donate our organs.”
A large number of the Tamil political prisoners have been kept in prison for over two decades without charge or trial by the Sri Lankan state through emergency powers granted to its security forces in the Prevention of Terrorist Act ( PTA) and Emergency Regulation Laws. Majority of the prisoners have experienced torture and been subjected to human rights violations by the Sri Lankan police and intelligence. Some of the prisoners have revealed their stories of sexual torture.
The Tamil Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council, C.V. Vigneswaran, in a press release, emphasized that good governance cannot be implanted from the outside; the government has to prove it by actions. He also said that the release of Tamil political prisoners has proven to involve no risk for the state as those released under the previous regime caused no violence. He also pointed out the discriminatory logic of the government, which provided amnesty to the Sinhalese insurgents of the JVP during the 1970’s and 1990’s while refusing it to Tamil political prisoners:
“In the time of the JVP, everyone was given unconditional general amnesty. To say that there are obstacles and delays is surprising for us. It is only by accommodating such small requests that the rhetoric of good governance can have some use, but to maintain such policies, and chanting ‘good governance’ is obsolete.”
The Srisena Government’s reluctance to release Tamil political prisoners and maintain war-time emergency laws exposes their intent to continue with the genocidal agenda of the successive Sri Lankan Governments, Tamil Refugee Council said today.
“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the Tamil political prisoners, unlawfully incarcerated by the occupying Sri Lankan forces and its state in official and undisclosed detention camps and prisons.” Said Tamil Refugee Spokesperson Aran Mylvaganam.
“We demand the Australian government and it’s allies, who proved their influence in the island by instigating a regime change earlier this year, to wield the same power in pressing the Colombo government to immediately grant general amnesty to all Tamil political prisoners. The incarcerated Tamils are not criminals, and cannot be subjected to the criminal jurisdiction of the Sri Lankan state. They are rather political prisoners and Prisoners of War.”
“The western governments cannot conceive or expect a cessation to the refugee crisis, involving Tamils, without solving the political situation in their homeland. It is the Sri Lankan state terror and military occupation of their traditional homelands leads to Tamils fleeing persecution and impoverished lives towards countries like Australia” – Tamil Refugee Council Press Office, 9 November 2015
The campaign for justice for Tamils on the island of Sri Lanka continues. Within Australia I strongly encourage comrades to support the work of the Tamil Refugee Council and Tamil Fightback. You can follow Tamil Fightback on Twitter, Facebook and on 3cr Radio in Melbourne.
Trevor Grant has published a new piece on the ongoing genocide against Tamil people in Sri Lanka:
The Sirisena regime says in one forum they are going to release all prisoners, then, in another, denies there are any political detainees. The end result is preservation of the status quo, except for a few token releases designed to silence continued demands from Amnesty International and other well-informed, respected human rights groups to free these people and investigate the 146,000 reported Tamil disappearances, along with the many mass graves that have been uncovered in recent times.
Check it out.
This is a disgusting and self evidently racist attack on Aboriginal peoples in remote communities.
From the ABC:
Job seekers in remote communities will face tougher rules than those in the city under a new work-for-the-dole program, as the Government tries to end “sit-down welfare”.
The Federal Government’s new scheme will force job seekers aged 18 to 49 to do work-for-the-dole activities for up 25 hours a week.
Nearly 30,000 people living in remote communities will have to work five days a week, 12 months a year under the program, to start in July next year.
The scheme already running in selected city and regional areas requires job seekers to take part for only six months a year.
The idea of “job seeking” in remote communities is absurd. This is a policy that will either lock indigenous people in remote areas into permanent service to the government, or force them out of their communities and off their lands.
Forced labour, or be driven from your lands. I imagine our government would be reasonably happy with either outcome.
And I heartily campaign for marriage equality.
But marriage be damned.
In Australia, same sex marriage is explicitly banned. This ban is not about marriage, it’s about marking out queers as less than equal.
Young queers grow up being told that marriage “is the cornerstone of our society”, and that they can’t get married. The conclusions should be pretty fucking obvious to even the most dense. Young queers are being told they are not normal, they are wrong, they are threatening, they are being told they are less than human.
A ban on same sex marriage gives very real comfort to homophobes and religious freaks, it tells them that their beliefs are supported by the state. It serves the interests of conservative religious institutions, reinforcing their power; the ruling class it seems still has some need for their role as moral police.
But first and foremost its about dividing people, it’s about dividing the working class. Dividing the working class into marginalised and privileged groups is key to maintaining the power of the ruling class. Your jobs are threatened by foreigners! Your marriages are threatened by queers! Your property is threatened by the blacks! NOW GET INTO LINE.
This is no greatly hidden process. Divide and rule works, and is consciously practised. The Howard government’s explicit ban on same sex marriage occurred in the lead up to the 2004 election. “Illegals” no terrified like they did in 2001, and Mark Latham looked like offering the Howard government a bit of a challenge. We now know this ban was adopted at the same time as the Howard government conspired to enact a massive attack on the conditions of the working class in the form of Work Choices.
Anarchist and Socialists who I consider friends critique this position, on the grounds that the campaign for same sex marriage is vulnerable to co-option by the ruling class.
Of course it is! Every campaign is! Today’s radicalism is tomorrows product, re-branded, packaged and sold back to us. Anyone for a Cherry Guevara icecream, or your very own Guy Fawkes mask?
If we reject every campaign that risks co-option by the ruling class, if we demand nothing short of total revolution now, we will find ourselves in an isolated self serving political ghetto of the most pure, the most self righteous, the most ineffective and the most irrelevant, for all time. Sound familiar?
You can’t will a revolution out of thin air, and you cannot some how expect that the mass of people will come around to your point of view as if by magic.Yes, Stonewall was a riot, and yes, the radical history of the liberation struggle MUST be defended. But we’re not at Stonewall and it’s not 1969.
The sad fact is that we don’t get to pick the political terrain. Radical ideas will only be advanced when radicals meet people where they are at now.
And an increasingly large cross section of the working class is at events like Equal Love Albury Wodonga, or at Reclaim the Night, or at demonstrations against 457 visas.
I want to make it clear I don’t endorse any of these campaigns uncritically (especially NOT the 457 campaign). But the skill and task of the radical is to be able to engage critically with what exists, and advance an alternative and more systematic explanation of the vectors of oppression that at least some people have decided to confront.
Go and read this post by Em BC at Blind Carbon Copy, <a href="http://bccwords.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/misogyny-and-left-we-need-to-start .html”>Misogyny and the left – we need to start practicing what we preach.ir-leasing.ru
A short extract:ir-leasing.ru
Most attempts at dealing with sexism tend to be through group education around feminism. Focusing on theoretical education, rather than individual behaviour, is seen as addressing issues “politically”. This kind of education is an invaluable tool for fighting sexism. But when abusive behaviour is directed at female members of an organisation, refusing to address individual behaviour is effectively putting the “education” of male comrades above the ability of females to participate in activism.
The argument that these are personal issues still comes up way too often. There was an incident where someone launched a brutal physical attack at his ex’s partner. When the organisation involved was asked to do something about this, it was decided that this was a personal matter and not organisational “business”. vidmate Maybe there was little that could be done in the circumstances. But how can we say we claim to defend women’s rights if misogynist violence just isn’t our business? If we allow people who commit it to be in positions of responsibility?
Harassment is too often simply placed in the too hard basket. When I was subjected to a minor sexual assault by a male comrade, the group involved decided that nothing could be done because it was too difficult politically at the time. I do understand why those comrades involved felt this way. But the decision not to do anything had a much worse effect on me than the actual assault. To me the message that came across was that my safety and my bodily autonomy were secondary to organisational issues.
I’m highlighting this post for a couple of reasons.
Some f-cked sh-t has gone down in the British SWP. Suprise surprise, an anti-feminist Trot group has awful internal practice when it comes to accusations of sexual violence levied against a leading member of their hierarchy.
But any anarchist going around feeling smug at the moment must be living with their damned eyes closed.
Seriously, read Em’s article. There is some really basic sh-t that should happen.
When someone is violent or abusive towards women, they should be excluded from our groups, organisations and events. No need to quasi judicial processes or liberal rubbish about balancing rights, when someones behaviour threatens others, or prevents others from participating in safety, exclude them.
When a group with any degree of standing amongst anarchists expels someone for their behaviour, in the absence of evidence of manifest injustice, all other groups should respect and uphold that decision. For too long abusive and violent individuals have simply been able to hop from group to group, pleading victimisation to anyone who will listen.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post.
[150 words removed here]
Update 2013-2-7: I received a phone call from BD this morning. BD stated he will not be attending Camp Anarchy.
BD explained that he had only responded to the Facebook event in order to “stir people up” and agreed that this had probably not been the best course of action. He expressed that there was much he regretted in his behaviour to date.
It was my impression from the conversation that BD’s remarks were genuine, and that in fact he has absolutely no intention of attending Camp Anarchy. As such I have agreed to remove 150 words from post. This does not constitute a retraction of my original remarks, it is only my intention to support BD’s decision to in part address the primary concern I raised in this post.
The Indonesian state continues to murder on behalf of Australian companies.
The ABC reports that Arc Exploration had absolutely nothing to do with the shooting of eight protesters by Indonesian police in the Sumbawa town of Sape four days ago.
The ABC reports that Arc Exploration conducts “meetings with local people” and that “extensive consultation process with local community leaders and authorities” and that this “resulted in these parties confirming their support for [the company’s] activities”.
The Port was occupied by villagers (and student supporters) opposing minging developments in Sumbawa, like this one near the town of Barawera.
Here is a photo of the proposed development. The development would involve digging out the green bit.
Two days after the Police killings, three hundred people gathered on the streets of Makassar to denounce the police brutality.
A police station, banks and advertising billboards were pelted with stones. Two people were arrested, two other arrests were foiled by the mass intervention of demonstrators. According to the awful google translation I am relying on:
Protesters claimed that what happened in Bima and elsewhere caused by the greed of capitalism to exploit the environment which then threaten people’s lives
A commenter on Indymedia notes that ANZ are a major investor in Arc Exploration, the same happy chaps who are major investors in Gunns and a key source of finance for the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill in Tasmania.
It’s all one struggle.
This ad will not be seen on your TV screens any time soon. Because Australia has some seriously restrictive laws preventing any reasonable discussion of euthanasia.
Australians overwhelmingly support the right of a terminally ill person to end their life. But a narrow religious minority do not, and once again their views are reflected in law, restricting our right to think, discuss and act for ourselves.
Watch it, share it, save it, re-upload it. It’s time for a renewed discussion of euthanasia in Australia, legal or not.
Three dead workers, more injured, all on one site in Adelaide.
In July, worker Brett Fritsch was killed when a steel beam fell from a soft sling on the Adelaide desal plant construction site.
Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union state secretary Martin O’Malley said too many companies used “soft slings” connected to cranes which, wrapped around steel beams, broke too easily, putting workers at risk.
“We’ve been arguing that the slings are not only inappropriate, but downright dangerous, for the past 25 years,” he said.
Mr O’Malley believed workers were instructed to use the slings “because they stop the steel from getting scratched”
It has now come to light that this was not the first death related to the desal site:
Allen O’Neil, 31, died on February 15 after accidentally inhaling diesel on December 12 last year at a site associated with the plant.
A desal plant insider said the man was siphoning diesel into his tanker, allegedly because he was not provided with the proper siphoning equipment by construction consortium McConnell Dowell Abigroup.
And another worker, a truck driver, was killed on the Lonsdale Highway whilst transporting materials to the site.
Workers are dieing. And a strong union should stand up to prevent these deaths. But in Australia, workers in the most dangerous trade in the country don’t have the same rights as you or me.
Construction workers are subject to the punitive powers of the ABCC. The Australian Building and Construction Commission was established by the Howard government, and retained by the Rudd and Gillard governments, in order to crack down on the power of the construction unions.
When workers strike over safety, projects fall behind schedule. When workers strike over wages and conditions, bosses, developers and banks lose money.
The workers in the building industry went on strike so often because their industry is so dangerous, when a building site is killing people, it needs to be closed down until safety is addressed.
But apparently, our government values profits over lives.
And the results speak for themselves:
A 95% increase in construction deaths? Simple as ABCC
This is unacceptable. The ABCC must be abolished, union rights are a matter of life and death.
Related: Ark Tribe is fighting charges for refusing to cooperate with the ABCC. We need to rally behind every single worker singled out by this obscene process.
That’s not a knife, that’s a thousand dollar fine!
And it’s the justification for the most serious erosion of civil liberties the State of Victoria has seen in a hundred years.
Tonight the Victorian govts adverts promoting the new stop and search powers went to air. The ads end in the hilariously tongue in cheek tag line, “We will get you!”.
As experience elsewhere suggests, this attack on our rights is unlikely to get at the (grossly overstated) problem of violence on our streets.