jiselle's blog

Saudi Arabia cracks down on critics

This week, two human rights activists, Issa al-Nukheifi and Essam Koshak, were sentenced to 6 years and 4 years of jail respectively. Their crime was to publicly criticise the Saudi Arabia government policies in Yemen and internal policies. These latest sentences are just part of an ongoing campaign by the government of Saudi Arabia to silence any critics, especially in times of rising economic inequality and cutbacks. Such crackdowns on local activists makes the task for the millions of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia to organise and improve their conditions even more difficult.

 

Campaign to free refugees continues in Australia

It has been over four years since Reza Barati was murdered during a riot at the Manus concentration camp in Papua New Guinea. The fact that in all these years no-one has been brought to justice reflects the Australian government contempt for refugees. In the other off shore concentration camp in Nauru, a new leaked report attests to the fact that refugees have been housed in unhealthy conditions for years due to untreated mould outbreaks. In late March, co-ordinated protest rallies will be held all around Australia demanding the closure of these concentration camps and an end to the repression of asylum seekers and refugees.

 

Turkish writer gets additional jail term

Last Wednesday, Ahmet Altan, a prominent Turkish novelist and newspaper editor, was handed an additional six years of jail only a week after he was sentenced to life in prison. These additional six years were for an article Ahmet wrote in support of Kurdish people and for a text in which he criticised President Erdogan. The recent long term jail sentences given to critics of the Turkish government is a dangerous new sign for workers and activists in Turkey. In addition, the propaganda against any opponents of the Turkish government is reaching new levels with TV hosts regularly calling for the death of any traitors to Turkey.

 

Filipino workers facing unrelenting terror

Since the start of President Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’ in 2016, it is now estimated that over 20,000 people have been murdered by police, paramilitary units or hit squads. Almost all the victims have been from working class communities in the Philippines. A reign of terror now grips millions of workers and their families as armed gunmen daily roam their neighbourhoods looking for new targets. The perpetrators enjoy total impunity. President Duterte recently upped the stakes even further by now offering a bounty of US $380 for any ‘communist rebel’ killed as well as encouraging soldiers to mutilate their prisoners.

End the War on Drugs! 

Stop the killings! 

End the impunity!

 

Five workers killed in Indian shipyard

Last week, five workers were killed and another 11 hospitalised when an explosion ripped through the inside of a ship in the area that they were working, in the southern city of Cochin. The incident is still under investigation but it is believed that a build-up of acetylene gas and an exposed welding flame caused the explosion. Health and safety conditions in many Indian workplaces are substandard with lax enforcement of the rules. In this instance, it seems that the owners of the shipyard had obtained a OHS ‘self-certification’ which allows companies to self-regulate, and therefore cut costs.

 

Iranian workers win their wages back

After almost 8 months of bitter dispute, the workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar complex in Shush, Iran, have managed to secure the payment in full of their wage arrears, dating back to July 2017. The tipping point in this struggle was the threat by the workers earlier this month to take over the complex from management. While getting their wages paid, there are a number of other outstanding issues. These include that daily contract workers also be paid the wages owed to them and that management recognise their union, which the workers formed in 2008.
Free for all political prisoners in Iran! Freedom for workers to organise!

 

Workers continue to face devastation in Syria

The war in Syria shows no signs of abating as new players and new battle fronts open up in a competition among regional players to increase their influence. At the border with Turkey, the battle for the Afrin region continues to rage, in the neighbouring province of Idlib constant bombardments have led to new rebel alliances, while in eastern Ghouta district hundreds of people are being massacred under constant bombardment. The continuation of war into an 8th year is a disaster for working class communities in Syria, though defiance and resistance by civilians still occurs.

 

Journalists get life sentence in Turkey

Last week, three journalists in Turkey were sentenced to life in prison over allegations of their involvement in the 2016 coup attempt. Their alleged crime was to have broadcast and printed ‘subliminal messages’ inciting people to overthrow the government. Three other people also received life sentences, while another journalist Deniz Yucel was released after a year in detention following the intervention of the German government. These convictions quite clearly show the level of repression that exists in Turkey at the moment and is a clear danger for labour and human rights activists in that country.

 

Workers around the world support Cambodian activist

Moeun Tola is a long-time activist on the side of the Cambodian working class. Tola, with two other activists, was recently charged with stealing funds in a clearly politically motivated attack to stifle opposition to the current Government. In a clear statement of support around the world, more than 30 labour and human right organisations have joined to call on the Cambodian government to stop the persecution against activists like Moeun Tola.

 

Vale Zelda D’Aprano

This week, the union movement in Australia lost one of its historical leaders in Zelda D’Aprano. Zelda was iconised in 1969 in a photograph showing her chained to the Commonwealth Building in protest against women receiving less pay than men. Zelda left school early so that she could work and support her family. She soon learnt of the exploitation that workers, and especially women workers, faced. Zelda was a staunch labour activist all her life and continued to support labour campaigns even after she had retired.
In memory and solidarity.

 

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