aawl mini-news

Iranian labour activist freed

On Thursday 23 November, the long-time labour activist Mahmoud Salehi was released from the main jail of Saqez city in north western Iran. Mahmoud was recently re-arrested in late October and given an additional 1 year sentence. Mahmoud had a number of serious health problems due to his long stints in jail on previous occasions related to his labour activities. In the last month, labour activists both inside Iran and internationally campaigned for his release. The fight to release many other imprisoned labour activists from Iranian jails continues.

PNG police attack refugee camp

Late last week, the Papua New Guinea government carried out its threat to attack protesting refugees who had been left stranded on the closed down Australian concentration camp on Manus Island. The refugees are protesting against the inhumane and repressive treatment they have been subjected to over the years. In the attack by PNG police, a number of people were injured, some were arrested including well known Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani. Protest actions by refugee activists are continuing to take place all across Australia, with a recent rally in Melbourne attacked by fascist provocateurs and later on by the police.

Far right speaker to tour Australia

Well known USA far right propagandist Milo Yiannopoulos, is about to start a speaking tour of Australia. Milo is a mouthpiece for the far right in the USA, targeting minorities, the labour movement and the left in general. Milo is backed by far right news outlets like the Breitbart News Network and capitalists like billionaire Robert Mercer. His tour of Australian cities has received wide coverage on mainstream media while Milo has also been invited to speak at the Australian Parliament. Anti-fascist groups are organising protests at his public engagements (see here for Melbourne, Sydney, Perth counter protests).

Democratic space further restricted in Myanmar

Earlier this month, the Yangon Region Security and Border Affairs Minister issued a directive banning public assemblies in most of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. Also in November, a human rights activist in the northern state of Kachin was charged with criminal defamation after distributing information detailing human rights abuses by the military. These events, in conjunction with the continuing ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, and the previous arrests of journalists, are a stark reminder of the increasingly dangerous times that labour and human rights activists are facing in Myanmar.

Japanese workers under constant attack

Two separate labour issues highlight the pressures that workers in Japan face from their employers. A number of labour activists have been targeted by the global logistics company, Toll LTD., for their organising drive against unpaid overtime that forces drives to regularly work excessive hours. In a separate sector of the workforce, a survey has found that close to 70% of junior high school teachers are working more than 60 hours a week, putting many of them under severe stress.

Major mobilisation of workers hits capital

Over three days starting from 9 November, tens of thousands of workers staged a series of mass sit-ins and protests in the Indian capital city of New Delhi. It has been over three years that the current Government headed by Prime Minister Modi has been in power, and the situation for workers has steadily worsened. On top of the disastrous demonetisation of last year, the Modi government has unleashed a whole series of reforms that have undermined the power of workers and worsened their living standards. These protests were very important as not only did most labour and union centres in India participate, but the actions were directly targeting the government of Prime Minister Modi.

Mine workers continue their fight

Since starting to take action in May of this year at the giant Freeport Grasberg gold and copper mine in West Papua, thousands of workers have been fired from their jobs. This harsh response by the company shows their determination to maintain the huge profits from this mine by keeping workers un-organised. These same workers fought a heroic battle against the company back in 2011 (see here and here). To highlight the current struggle, the global union federation IndustriALL has produced a documentary on these workers and their lives.

South Korean workers stage big rally

For the 47th anniversary of the suicide of labour activist Jeon Tae-il, the Korean labour movement staged a massive rally in central Seoul on Saturday, November 12. At least 50,000 workers took part in this rally, organised by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to demand higher wages, better conditions and an end to union repression. Other unions such as the Korean construction unions have also been holding their own separate rallies. One of the main demands by workers both in South Korea and around the world (see here and here), is for the release of imprisoned KCTU leader Han Sang gyun.
Organising is not a crime! Free Han Sang gyun!

Lese Majeste effects exposed in new report

In Thailand, the most repressive law that all activists face is Article 112, or commonly referred to as the Lese Majeste law. This law criminalises any alleged, implied or indirect criticism of the Thai Royal Family and any of their interests with jail terms of over 10 years. Many activists have been imprisoned on the most flimsy of evidence (see here, here, here and here). A new report has analysed Lese Majeste arrests over the last decade and has highlighted how cases of Lese Majeste increase in line with periods of intense political mobilisations in Thailand.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand! Abolish Article 112! End the military dictatorship!

Workers take global action against repression

Workers and labour activists in many countries took action on November 16 to mark the Global Day of Action against Trade Union Repression. Pictures of events can be seen here. This is the fourth year that workers internationally have taken co-ordinated action against trade union repression. The day commemorates all the comrades around the world who face repression from capitalists and governments for fighting for a living wage, secure employment and a safe and healthy workplace. It is also a day to come together as an international class in global solidarity with each other.

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