Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ai Weiwei released on bail

Outspoken Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei is released by government authorities after nearly three months of detainment.

Ai is among China's most internationally known artists and had a hand in designing Beijing's iconic Bird's Nest Olympic stadium before souring on the event. His fame has soared in recent years, both for his groundbreaking art and his bold irreverence toward authority.

Ai's detention at Beijing's airport on April 3 made him the most famous victim of a sweeping crackdown against dissent in China that began in February when online calls for protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa began to circulate.

Hundreds of Chinese lawyers, activists, and other intellectuals have disappeared or been questioned or detained by authorities in the clampdown.
Ai Weiwei with his 'Sunflower Seeds'at Tate Modern in London
Ai had been keeping an informal tally of the detentions on Twitter. Ai was held under a form of detention known as residential surveillance somewhere outside Beijing. His wife was permitted one brief, monitored meeting in which she said he seemed well cared for and was not being held in a formal jail.

Ai's detention prompted an international outcry among artists, politicians and human rights activists, and Western leaders called it a sign of China's deteriorating human rights situation. His family and supporters said he was being punished for speaking out about the Communist leadership and social problems.

Ai has also spoken critically about a number of national scandals, including the deaths of students in shoddily built schools that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, children killed or sickened by tainted infant formula and a deadly high-rise fire in Shanghai that killed 58 and was blamed on negligent workers and corrupt inspectors.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Green Bans: 40 years on

Kelly's Bush: First Green Ban 16 June 1981

In 1971 a group of women in the leafy northern Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill were battling to protect a piece of urban bushland, Kelly's Bush.

They had exhausted all available avenues and as a last resort turned to the unions for help.

Last Thursday marked the 40th anniversary to the day of the placing of the first 'Green Ban' on June 16, 1971.

Speaking at an anniversary celebration at NSW Parliament House hosted by Greens MLC David Shoebridge, Jack Mundey, now 81, said the Green Bans movement was still respected.

"To think that casual union building labourers can be remembered 40 years on is very important," he told reporters.

"It brought together workers, it brought together women."

Reflecting on the early 1970s and the women's liberation movement, as well as the opponents of the war in Vietnam and apartheid in South Africa, Mr Mundey said it was a time of great change and the unity of the left was a decisive factor.

Mr Mundey, who was accompanied by fellow Green Bans veterans Darcy Duggan and Mick Tubbs, said there was no reason why similar bans couldn't occur today.

"There's no reason why they couldn't happen provided the will is there," he said.
"I do believe that it is possible to arouse the support of a broad section of the people for Green Bans."

The term 'Green Ban' was first used in 1971, following a public meeting of 600 people at Paddington Town Hall, where a resolution was passed by the BLF to stop the proposed development at Kelly's Bush.

Following strikes by the BLF, the developer abandoned its plans to build luxury houses at the site, which is now listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.

In the years since, Green Bans have helped to preserve the Rocks and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Centennial Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ethel and Julius

Pablo Picasso: Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
Nobel prize-winner, Jean-Paul Sartre, called the case "a legal lynching which smears with blood a whole nation".

Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg remained on death row for twenty-six months. They both refused to confess and provide evidence against others and they were eventually executed on 19th June, 1953. As one political commentator pointed out, they died because they refused to confess and name others.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brian Haw: 7/01/1949 – 18/06/2011 rest in PEACE

Brian Haw

Brian showed great determination and courage during the many long hard years he led his Peace Campaign in Parliament Square, during which it is well documented that he was relentlessly persecuted by the authorities which eventually took its toll on his health.

Brian showed the same courage and determination in his battle with cancer. He was keenly aware of and deeply concerned that so many civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine did not have access to the same treatments that were made available to him.

Parliament, the police, and courts etc, should forever be ashamed of their disgraceful behaviour towards Brian.