Assange must answer
While I am in favour of the excellent work that WikiLeaks does, your interview with Julian Assange in NI 490 leaves out critical information about the reasons for his ongoing presence in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. You do not mention that he has chosen to stay in the embassy to avoid having to face legal proceedings in Sweden, where he is accused of rape. We already live in a culture where it is extremely difficult for women to report rape, particularly against high-profile men such as Assange – choosing to ignore these accusations in order to paint him as a hero who is unlawfully detained does no service to those who are trying to change this culture. We can continue to admire the work that WikiLeaks does while still calling for Assange to answer to these very serious charges.
Roberto Savio (Essay, NI 490) could have said that one person one vote is no help if the poor are a minority rather than a majority. It also allows the oppression of minorities by the majority. What is needed is recognition of human rights.
After several months of work gathering data on the crisis created by the exodus of Syrian refugees, it is the very first time that an article has caused such an impact on me. ‘Fight for the heart of Europe’ (NI 489) is simply fantastic. It is absolutely praiseworthy the way you attempt to stir our consciences in search of not only political but also moral answers.
Just as Leo mentions in one of your testimonies, refugees will continue leaving their countries and trying to arrive at others as long as there is armed warfare. Europe should have the moral obligation of granting protection to those fleeing persecution and war.
Refugees who come here, or try to come here, to Australia, by boat certainly deserve better (NI 489). The disgraceful way they are being treated should make outsiders see Australia in the same way we used to look at apartheid South Africa.
Our government is keeping 2,000 asylum-seeking people in a gulag of camps across Australia. We cannot visit except by prior arrangement, and can only see one person at a time. People are often kept in them for years while they are being ‘processed’. Then there are the 30,000 people on ‘bridging’ or ‘temporary protection’ visas, with no ability to work legally or study, their lives ‘on hold’ for years.
Worst of all, we have the euphemistically known ‘offshore detention centres’ of Nauru (a tiny, mined-out Pacific nation) and Manus Island (part of Papua New Guinea) where 1,500 people are being held hostage. They have been told they will never resettle in Australia, and are being pressured to go back to the places of danger they left. Suicides and attempted suicides are frequent. The companies running the camps, profiting at our expense and at the expense of innocent people fleeing danger, are Broadspectrum, Wilson Security and Serco. It costs us an estimated $5 billion a year.
I write as the spokesperson for People Just Like Us (PJLU). We are working to unite the many refugee-rights groups, with five demands of our government:
- Immediate release and settlement for all those suffering at our hands.
- End mandatory detention.
- Raise the refugee intake substantially.
- Initiate safe-passage flights for refugees, from Indonesia and Malaysia, to Australia.
- Give refugees permanent settlement visas, citizenship, with full rights including work and family reunion.
Until our government does these things, we suggest that readers think twice before making that trip to Australia, and before buying Australian goods. Write and tell our government why.
Mark Boyle (Essay, NI 489) is right in promoting a serious re-evaluation of tactics and strategies for overturning systemic social, economic and environmental injustice and destruction. Clearly something more is needed. But his essay misleadingly equates ‘nonviolent’ action with ineffectiveness, as though ‘violent’ action is more effective.
He would do well to consider Erica Chenoweth and Maria J Stephan’s Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, a ground-breaking analysis of 323 resistance movements around the world during the past century. The book concludes that nonviolent movements, for strategic reasons they explain, have been twice as effective as violent movements in achieving their stated goals.
Perhaps what is needed is not more ‘violent’ actions (in the usual sense of violence), but stronger, more committed, risk-taking ‘nonviolent’ actions on the order of the marches, sit-ins and economic boycotts of the US Civil Rights Movement that filled the jails, disrupted business-as-usual, and led to historic changes in public policy.
The Unreported Year (NI 489) is exceptional. The content is well chosen. The photos are stunning. The links made between them and the highlighted stories are exquisite. What an educational and visual treat!
I had the opportunity to learn about New Internationalist during my English classes. Emily, my professor, brought a wide variety of articles for us to debate in class. As a result, we not only improved our vocabulary but also enriched our global perspectives with fresh ideas and points of view. I am a Brazilian journalist and I have included this magazine as a wonderful source of valuable and interesting information with quality writing. I will definitely spread the word!
After reading Suprabha Sheshan’s moving piece, ‘Cry me a river’ (NI 488), I believe a thank you is in order. As an NI subscriber since 2003, each month’s copy has been a treasure, filled with rich content. I am an English teacher in Brazil, and together with an advanced-level student, Cristina, we have been using NI as a source of inspiration, expanding our knowledge, views and vocabulary, as well as developing our opinions and arguments. Congratulations for all the fantastic work and a big obrigada!