Category Archives: democratic rights

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When Joh went to Uni

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In 1980 or 1981, Bjelke-Petersen went to University of Queensland guarded by Qld Special Branch. Joh’s visit was controversial as the questions from the news media suggest. We have secured historic footage of the event. Standing behind Joh during the … Continue reading

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Greece: another ‘Z’ ?

Readers may remember what happened to a democratically elected popular government in Chile in 1973 – the Generals coup and the subsequent economic hardship inspired by the Chicago School. Greeks already knew this lesson because a left wing parliamentarian, Grigoris Lambrakis, was assassinated by extremists because he had called for Greece to disarm and withdraw from NATO. What followed is deeply disturbing and a worry to anyone in solidarity with the Greek people in their current struggle. I have included a review of the film written in 1969
The film “Z” is about one of these things: about the assassination, six years ago, of a leader of the political opposition in Greece. It is also about all the rest of them. For Americans, it is about the My Lai massacre, the killing of Fred Hampton, the Bay of Pigs. It is no more about Greece than “The Battle of Algiers” was about Algeria. It is a film of our time. It is about how even moral victories are corrupted. It will make you weep and will make you angry. It will tear your guts out.
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Murder clouds, black from the edge

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Eddie Murray was as cool as the other side of the pillow. There is no way Eddie could have hung himself, for mine, it was murder most foul. The coppers threatened Eddie and Arthur Murray in the lead-up to his ‘suicide’; two weeks before they picked Eddie up, the cops told Arthur that they were going to get either him or his son, Eddie. But that’s the way it goes when you’re a blackfella and show up on the street. Continue reading

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Not All, Fall Down

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On 30 Oct 1978 during the illegal street marches of 1977-79 I was arrested and placed in a cell on the top left of this wing of Boggo Road Jail and forced to listen to 4BH radio day and night. I had no trial, it was on the whim of corrupt police and magistrate William Joseph McKay. The screws put me in the worst yard with murderers and rapists. However one of the policemen who arrested me on that day, Cnst Michael Egan, did resign from the police force the following year, at an International Women’s Day rally, when his girlfriend was assaulted by Special Branch. – Ian Curr Nov 2015. Continue reading

Aside

Curr’s defence team had argued the council had no power to enforce local laws on the land because, in 1999, the Queen granted a Deed of Grant of Land in Trust to Brisbane City Council on the condition it held the land “in trust for Aboriginal and for no other purpose whatsoever”.

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‘Right to March’ Movement 1977-1979

Strange primitive piece of flesh, the heart laid quiet
 hearing their cry pierce through its thin-walled cave
 recalls the forgotten tiger,
 and leaps awake in its old panic riot;
 and how shall mind be sober,
 since blood's red thread still binds us fast in history?
 Tiger, you walk through all our past and future,
 troubling the children's sleep'; laying
 a reeking trail across our dreams of orchards.
                          -- Trains by Judith Wright

[Publishers Note: Here are excerpts from an article published in the Social DemocraticRights_thumb.jpgAlternatives Magazine which was a beacon of light in the dark days of the Bjelke-Peterson era. It gives some insight into movement politics, as distinct from issues based politics sponsored by political parties of the Left. At that time, a protagonist of movement politics was Dan O’Neill, a veteran of the 1967 civil liberties march after the first ban on street marches by Premier Nicklin. Ten years later, on 22 October 1977, Dan stood at the top of the steps of King George Square steps with his back to 1,000 police and beseeched the crowd of 5,000 people in the square:

We have to build a movement which is systematic, organised, non-violent and absolutely massive.

The temperature was in the high 30s [cf People Rally at G20, 37 years later]. Wonderful poet Judith Wright, curiously oblivious of the crowds eagerness to march against uranium mining and export (was it her deafness?), had just finished speaking … for over 2 hours in the searing heat … or was it because she was unconsciously delaying the inevitable confrontation with police?

Nevertheless, after abortive attempts by Ian Henderson and Bob Phelps from Campaign against Nuclear Power (CANP) to martial people in twos and threes out of the square, Dan O’Neill finally put an end to the pussyfooting declaring that we mass in formation out of King George Square:
1977 arrest
So what I propose we do is to link arms in a sign of defiance and to march from the square. When we are confronted by police we should raise our arms in a sign of massive civil disobedience (that will fill the police watchouses) and bring the system to a standstill.

In the following three hours, 418 people were arrested in the largest single mass arrest in Australian history. I am no advocate for either issue politics or movement politics – but we should be aware of these formations and how they arise in resistance struggles – Ian Curr, 11 Dec 2014, participant of the democratic rights struggles. ]

CIVIL LIBERTIES IN QUEENSLAND: a nonviolent political campaign

by Ralph Summy and Mark Plunkett
[excerpts from SOCIAL ALTERNATIVES Vol. 1 Nos. 617, 1980 73]

u're all under arrestWith the exception of the anti Vietnam War campaigns of the sixties and early seventies, as well as some protracted industrial disputes, the years 1977-80 in Queensland witnessed Australia’s biggest protest movement of the post World War II period.

Moreover, what had become known as the ‘Right to March‘ movement was one of, if not the biggest sustained protest in the entire history of the State of Queensland.

In September 1977, the Queensland Government banned political street marches, thereby triggering off a statewide civil liberties campaign of defiance that resulted in some two thousand people being arrested, locked up, and fined, and about one hundred being imprisoned.

That such dissident fervour could be generated in a state like Queensland, generally regarded as having the most unenlightened politics and most reactionary government of any of Australia’s six states, came as a surprise to many people. Its two million population comprises mainly conservative and apathetic citizens whose politics are grounded in an ambiance of affluent complacency and no intellectualism.

This article will focus on the dynamics of the nonviolent political action that characterised the campaign. It will examine how the Queensland civil liberties movement non-violently challenged Parliament, Government, Police, Courts, Prison and the Public. It will show how the movement, by harnessing nonviolent techniques, was able to:

1) twice plunge the Government budget into deficit, and financially break the Queensland Police Force, thereby proving it was cheaper to allow marches than to stop them,

2) contribute to the downfall of the leaders of both the State Liberal and Labor Parties,

3) cause a great upheaval in the Queensland Coalition Government, the discord spilling over into the federal sphere,

4) generate nationwide debate and concern on the issue,

5 )expose the authoritarianism and injustice of the Queensland political system, recruit and radicalise a great number of individuals,

6) recruit and radicalise a great number of individuals,

7) win widespread third party support from numerous non participants,

8) and force ultimately the State Government to relax the
march ban.

 This article will focus on the dynamics of the nonviolent political action that characterised the campaign. It will examine how the Queensland civil liberties movement could recruit and radicalise a great number of individuals, and thereby win widespread third party support from numerous non-participants,

Sit down in the 'Valley of Death'

Sit down in the ‘Valley of Death’ – Albert Street Brisbane 22 Oct 1977

The aim was to ultimately force the State Government to relax the March ban.

Despite these successes, the campaign revealed many shortcomings. Since the principles of nonviolence were applied in only primitive form, the movement had far greater potential than it ever realised.

However, it was in the streets against the nonviolent demonstrators that the Government, through its agent, the police, most strikingly revealed its hypocrisy. Senior police officers when briefing police prior to an attempted march created the impression of an impending ‘riotous situation’.

Police repression
The Queensland Police Journal, official organ of the Queensland Police Union of Employees, ran articles on the Brisbane riots of 1919, ‘in order to afford our readers an opportunity of forming an opinion of the recent upheaval in our midst’. One article referred to the heavy police casualty list, detailing bayonet wounds, lacerations, broken ribs, and bullet wounds to the feet and backs of heads. In such an atmosphere it is not surprising that the police overreacted and created the violence they were supposed to prevent.

At one rally it was reported that police even placed sharpshooters on nearby tall buildings overlooking King George Square.

The Queensland Secretary of the Australian Journalist Association, Norm Harriden, described the strong-arm way in which the police made their arrests:

‘They were twisting people’s arms up behind their backs so they had to react and then a couple of other policemen would move in on the arrested person. That’s a technique they haven’t been using recently.’

If protesters saw the police roughing up a fellow marcher, they would shout, ‘Assault! Assault!’

The leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Don Chipp, commented in the Australian Senate that:

Senator Georges did not create the force and violence, the police did.

Perhaps the worst aspects took place under cover. The Special Branch police engaged in spying, surveillance, clandestine photography, intimidation, and harassment of protesters.

Harassment of leaders
The break-ins that occurred during rallies into the homes of leaders were thought to be the work of the plainclothes force. Their invasions into people’s privacy would presumably have been conducted to give them information not only for containing the movement but also for preventing certain people’s entry into or promotion in the state public service.

NVDA
Against the full panoply of the Bjelke-Petersen regime’s heavy-handed lawlessness and violence, the nonviolent strategy of the movement, no matter how imperfectly conceived and executed, was bound to attract some third party support. The regime’s arrogance and ignorance played directly into the hands of the movement. However, chastened now after its first encounter with nonviolence, the regime may devise a more sophisticated approach if it projects the conflict into a second stage.

Alternative Media
The movement also set up its own media. Demonstrations were video-taped not only to provide evidence at court trials but so students and others could see what the television stations refused to show. A few enterprising actionists set up a pirate radio station 4PR. Known as the people’s radio, it made a number of broadcasts in FM at 94 kilohertz.

Thanks to Radical Times for this footage shot by Bruce Dickson

What if the movement grows…
Should this occur, an imperative will exist for the movement to counter with a deeper understanding of nonviolent theory and a more judicious use of the armoury of nonviolent methods. The use of nonviolent means against violent repression creates an asymmetrical conflict situation in which the two forces are using different weapons systems.

The skillful, determined and extensive application of nonviolent techniques will throw a violent opponent off balance.Arrests in Right to march

His/her violence will rebound against him/her, as in jiu-jitsu.

According to Gandhi, the process is similar to that of a person violently striking water with a sword; it is the person’s arm which becomes dislocated.

Total no of arrests in right to march campaign

Summer campaign
Whilst the movement triggered considerable third-party support, which it then often assisted. It rarely engaged directly in soliciting the initial support.

One important exception was the 1977-78 summer campaign conducted by Dan O’Neill and Jane Gruchy who toured the length and breadth of Queensland, reaching country areas as far away from Brisbane as the Atherton Tableland.

The purpose of the tour was to explain to country people (whose media exposure was decidedly one dimensional) the central issues involved and seek their organisational support.

The success of the tour can probably be measured by contrasting the extensive degree of protest that subsequently occurred in the provincial cities and towns with that which rarely developed during the years of the anti-Vietnam War campaign or during the 1971 tour of the Springbok rugby team.

To read the full article – Civil Liberties Movement

• These figures represent the Brisbane total in 1977 alone. Two or three hundred more should be included for marches conducted in provincial cities and towns. For example quite a lot of people were arrested in Townsville (1977-1979).

Reference

CIA and political police

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Open Letter from Nyungah Land

Open Letter from Nyungah Land and Culture Protector Iva Hayward-Jackson
 Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/11/2014 – 6:57pm Recently The Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, committed to closing down approximately one hundred and fifty remote Aboriginal communities … Continue reading

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Protected: Does the Left have community?

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People need parks!

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Under Public Land and Council Assets Local Law 2014 Brisbane City Council is intending to limit public assembly in local parks, malls, and gardens. The restrictions on use of public parks require “a person who wants to conduct an activity … Continue reading

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G20 Peoples Summit: call for presenters/invitation

Brisbane Community Action Network – G20 http://www.briscan.net.au http://www.facebook.com/briscan.g20 Visioning another world Brisbane G20 Peoples Convergence Nov 8-16, 2014 Global Call to action Dear Friends, The G20 Leaders Summit will bring the leaders of the worlds’ 20 largest economies to Brisbane … Continue reading

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How America made ISIS

Whatever your politics, you’re not likely to feel great about America right now. After all, there’s Ferguson (the whole world was watching!), an increasingly unpopular president, a Congress whose approval ratings make the president look like a rock star, rising … Continue reading

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Battle for Pooh Corner at Wacol

” There needs to be proper policies put into place where the community gets consulted about the sale of these lands before they actually go ahead and sell them off.” – Simon Birrell “But the Jezzine Barracks in Townsville and … Continue reading

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Humanitarian aid, arms trade and refugees.

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This is the story of how the Syrian war reached out 5,000 miles across the globe and destroyed at least 29 Lebanese lives in the Indian Ocean. It is a story of tragic irony; the destitute Lebanese families who wanted … Continue reading

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Changed “Terror War” strategies?

Profitable armaments industries assure that wars generated by the great powers proliferate one after another and are preferred to diplomacy and justice in resolving conflicts. The current ‘Terror War’ has seen the US-UK led alliance actively generating enemies using false … Continue reading

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Bloodless Coup – Barwick revisited

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In this, the season of demonstrations and marches, there is a call for ‘better government’, but is that possible when the problem is the system of government itself? Along with that is a call to block the austerity budget put … Continue reading

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Petition to drop the Sorry Day charges in WA

Petitioning To the Honourable Helen Margaret Morton MLC The WA Minister of Child Protection, intervene and ensure all charges are dropped in relation to the May 26 protest. Petition by : Grandmothers Against Removals To the Honourable Helen Margaret Morton … Continue reading

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Gaza: the dark tunnels …

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G20 Laws Community Information Session

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Thursday July 31 5:30pm Brisbane Square Library Bookings required: 3214 6333 or camielle Here is an Opinion Piece from Scott McDougall – the Director of Caxton Legal Service http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/opinion-let-us-use-our-moment-to-shine-a-light-on-democracy/story-fnihsr9v-1227003313927 Opinion: Let us use our moment to shine a light on … Continue reading

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No Peace without Justice

We will not “return to a living death” of siege and blockade, say Gaza civil society leaders. [Editor’s Note: Readers can see from the signatures below that No Peace without Justice  is a sentiment shared by Palestinian community both inside … Continue reading

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Wretched of the Earth

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Europeans, you must open this book and enter into it. After a few steps in the darkness you will see strangers gathered around a fire; come close, and listen, for they are talking of the destiny they will mete out … Continue reading

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Take action for Palestine

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Take action for Palestine Saturday July 26 Justice for Palestine Brisbane – Boycott Sodastream walking tour Gather at 11am in King George Square for a guided tour of stores in Brisbane which stock Sodastream products made in an illegal settlement … Continue reading

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Middle East: ‘stop all the clocks’

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Israeli Ground Invasion of Gaza began on Thursday 17 July 2014 … from the east, from the north by land, by sea and by air with tanks, guns, F16s heliocopter gunships, apache rockets, iron drome … … an invasion on … Continue reading

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Dawn to Dusk – reminisences of a rebel: childhood and youth

Dawn To Dusk, E. H. Lane 1939 PART I Childhood and Youth Chapter I. Early Influences It is a far cry from the old worn-out beliefs of the conservativism and reactionary political policies of 50 years ago, to the virile … Continue reading

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Dawn to Dusk – reminiscences of a rebel

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The wiles of Labour politicians – the futility of fearful and reactionary Labour leaders have been revealed in this record, and the lessons I and others so bitterly learned should preclude any further waste of time and enthusiasm in vainly … Continue reading

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Tent embassy in the park

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Silences in the boom: coal seam gas and neoliberalism

[Editor’s Note: Combined here is an extract from an article published in the Journal of Political Ecology and a talk given by one of the authors, Ack Mercer, at Brisbane Free Uni. The article text below originally contained some references … Continue reading

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National Statement – 26 May 2014: Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Welfare

National Statement – 26 May 2014 Say NO to Continuing Stolen Generations | Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Welfare Returning children must be the priority | No forced adoptions | Support and services to prevent removals We, as Aboriginal Grandparents and … Continue reading

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Thatcherism in Queensland Housing

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event … Continue reading

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National Action Group formed to combat child removals

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+++ Stop Press ++++++ Stop Press ++++++ Stop Press ++++++ Stop Press +++ Today, Thursday 8 May 2014, people who have experience of continuing stolen generations from Perth, Brisbane, Gunnedah, Alice Springs, Sydney, South Coast, Melbourne and Bundaberg formed a National … Continue reading

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Great Barrier Reef: Mega Ports or Marine Park?

Great Barrier Reef: Mega Ports or Marine Park?Dear Norma At a time when the reef needs stronger protection, the Queensland Government is fast tracking port developments and giving special treatment to the mining industry. Join us on Wednesday 14 May … Continue reading