Australia’s minister for immigration and border protection, Peter Dutton, continues to ramp up the inhumane treatment of refugees housed in offshore concentration camps.
As if the constant reports of abuse, self-harm and deaths are not evidence enough that the system is cruel, refugees on Manus Island have had to suffer cuts to power and water for the past month in an attempt to force them to move to another facility, and a deaf ear has been turned to three pregnant women on Nauru needing medical transfer to Australia.
Now, leaked documents obtained by Fairfax media show that, from 28 August, the government will cut income and housing support for up to 100 refugees, possibly including a pregnant woman, who have been living in Australia receiving medical treatment. The refugees reportedly are to be issued a “final departure bridging E visa”, which means they will have their $200 a fortnight income cut and be booted out of their government-run community detention accommodation.
The refugees will be given just three weeks to get a job and find somewhere to live. The Brisbane Times quotes from a letter to be sent to the refugees, which states, “You will be expected to support yourself in the community until departing Australia”. The situation of the refugees is further compounded by the insecurity of not knowing when they’ll be forcibly deported. If they can’t find accommodation or a job, their only options will be deportation back to the camps on Manus Island or Nauru or to the country they have fled.
But their chances of finding work are low because the government has refused to grant those in community detention the right to work. And refugees over 18 have been denied opportunities to study or access training programs. Many of the refugees targeted by these measures have ongoing health issues which, combined with the uncertainty of their visa status, present significant barriers to employment.
As Daniel Webb, a solicitor at the Human Rights Law Centre, argues in the Brisbane Times, “It’s hard enough for people in full employment with good wages to find a rental on three weeks’ notice, let alone people our government has imprisoned for years on remote islands and banned from working or training”.
That children and families are not expected to be included in the first round of the new visas is not a sign of the government’s compassion. It will be only a matter of time before they are left homeless and penniless.
There has been a vigorous argument over the direction of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) industrial campaign at Sydney University this year. Most recently, those who have been reluctant to argue and organise seriously for frequent enough and long enough strikes are now leading the charge for a “smarter” strategy of administration bans.
In late August, around 50 union members at Knauf plasterboard held a meeting in their Melbourne factory to discuss recent EBA negotiations, which had begun a few months earlier. A new HR manager insisted on attending the meeting and wasted people’s time explaining the wonderful job that company management had done taking care of the workers, in particular their recent and significant safety concerns. As he spoke, one after another the workers turned their backs on him. Soon, they began challenging the manager about a worker who had just been sacked.
Minoo Jalali was among those who resisted Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in Iran. In the early months of 1979, she joined a mass women’s protest against the compulsory wearing of the hijab in public. “That revolution was inevitable”, Jalali recounted 40 years later in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “Nobody could have really stopped the force of it. We hoped that we could steer it [but] we were wrong. And the clergy hijacked it ... and deceived many people.”
While student radicalism is most often associated with 1960s Paris or Vietnam-era US campuses, there is a similarly rich history of university student rebellion outside of the advanced capitalist countries. One of these rebellions took place in Indonesia in 1998, when students led a movement that ended the 30-year rule of General Suharto. The movement involved hundreds of thousands of ordinary Indonesians in a fight for democracy, encapsulated by the slogan reformasi total (complete reform).
Protests and riots have spread across Iran after a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, was murdered by the morality police. Amini was visiting the capital, Tehran, on 13 September when she was arrested for allegedly breaking mandatory veiling laws. Police beat her into a coma and she died three days later. Amini was buried in her hometown of Saqqez.
The international working-class movement has long been divided between two strategies to win socialism: the reformist and the revolutionary.