Sunday, 25 March 2012

#OSyd Occupy Friday, 23/03

On Friday night I headed along to the first (and hopefully not the last!) "Occupy Friday" night hosted by Occupy Sydney.

We are the 99%
It was a good response; I'd estimate that there was at least 50-60 people in attendance throughout the night, including around 40 marching down to the steps of the MLC centre tower, where the US consulate in Sydney is located, to show solidarity with #Occupy Wall Street protesters who have faced police violence in the last week.

Mic Check: I don't think George Orwell intended 1984 to be an instruction manual...

From the Facebook event:
Occupy Sydney will be hosting Occupy Fridays beginning on friday the 23rd and continuing every friday after that. Occupy Fridays seeks to facilitate a hub for arts, free education, creativity and ideas. Occupy Fridays is open to anyone and everyone and will be an open source event; which means that anyone involved can contribute and participate in determining the destiny of Occupy Fridays and the future of Occupy Sydney as a whole.

Occupy Fridays is a great way to engage for the first time or re-engage with YOUR Occupy Movement and explore alternatives to the current economic and social realities that govern our lives.

On Friday the 23rd, there will be a variety of ways to get involved which are fun and educational, including:

-Theme, The Australian Fun Exchange
-Free school workshops & teach-ins planned, including a freeschool on the financial system and a "know your rights" workshop. Also for anyone who wants to spontaneously hold a workshop can do so!
-Portugese conversation class at 10:30pm
-Placard making area
-Musicians Welcome and please bring your own instruments for jammin’
- Kid’s section -3-4pm
- Tiny Tents Task Force
-Yoga Lessons
- Friday Night Sustainable Cinema (Movie TBA)
- Stencil making (for Occupy Sydney T-shirts and such, bring an old T-shirt and spare material for flags and banners)
-Occupiers will be walking around getting voxpops from people for our "Have Your Say" project. If you'd like to contribute thoughts or ideas, they will be the strange people walking around with video cameras. They're pretty friendly. so don't be shy, get your voice heard!
-Also, anyone who wants to take part, we'll be heading to the MLC Centre steps around 8pm ish and hold a candle lit vigil to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters at OWS who suffered this wknd at the hands of NYPD brutality. BYO candle!

If you have any ideas or skills that you'd like to offer, come to the Occupy Fridays Working Group at 5pm on tuesdays, otherwise, come along, one and all! it’ll be a great night! Please come armed with ideas, musical instruments, a plate of food and a touch of mischeif!

Occupy Fridays will be an overnight event, so if you'd like to bring sleeping gear and occupy overnight, please do so but no tents please as that presents legal issues.

Occupy Fridays is also a drug and alcohol free event. Please respect that and make sure it remains a safe space for all participants!

Please invite your friends!

Support Occupy Sydney

The fact that #OSyd has survived the summer, maintaining a presence at Martin Place (unlike any other #Occupy in Australia), is definitely a good thing. Free Schools draw in similiar numbers to the 50-60 that were down there on Friday night - but the Free Schools are more focused on discussion and less on taking action; from speaking with many of the longer term occupiers, this is the first time in a long time that such numbers have been part of political action with the group.

There is a lot of thinking going on in #Osyd about what is the best way to move forward, to grow the movement now the initial excitement (read: media attention) over the idea of occupy has faded a little. The protest camp faces constant police harassment, as do individual occupy activists. In this context, I think events like Occupy Friday are crucial in mobilising people who, for whatever reasons, haven't gotten involved in #OSyd yet - or who got involved back in October then dropped away in response to the police harassment, their own time constraints and priorities, or whatever.

To me, #Occupy Sydney is above all a movement for the dispossesed; the homeless, the unemployed, the workers, the "aussie battlers", everyone who is on the short end of the stick in this society. Only a small number of those people are dedicated, motivated and convinced enough to be part of an overnight camp of a small number of people who are going to face police intimidation. #Occupy, or any movement which seeks to say that our economic and political system is the problem, needs to find a variety of different methods of organisation that all of those layers of people can relate to within their comfort zone, while still seeking to draw those people forward into the struggle.

Occupy Fridays seems to me a great tactic to do this; space for a variety of kinds of activism, collective mobilisation, and potentially building up numbers to renewed occupation on a scale the police can't just harass away. I think it's important that #OFri still maintains an emphasis political action, like the solidarity vigil, as well as organising and discussion. I'd encourage all socialists, anarchists and others seeking to change the system to come down to next week's Occupy Friday before/after the March to Jerusalem, and be part of the conversation :)

160 days of occupy... and counting :)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

#Free Austin 11/03

On the 11th of March, myself and around 60-70 other activists, friends, family & colleagues of Austin Mackell rallied outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (or Department of Fucking Around and Timewasting, as I prefer) to demand our parachute Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, make public statements and take action on Austin's behalf.

Rally for Austin Mackell, 11/03

You can also check out three videos of the protest posted on YouTube.

Rally for Austin Mackell, 11/03 - boys in blue in the back...

A petition has been circulating calling for both Carr & Julia Gillard to intervene on Austin's behalf, along with an open letter in the same vein. Between my signing the petition yesterday and the time of posting, the signatures have gone up by at least a couple of thousand. Let's hope it hits ten thousand by the time I check tomorrow night...

Hillier Windsor, Austin's sister, speaking at the rally, 11/03.

Austin himself has written several pieces on the question of his arrest; the first is his firsthand account of the events in Mahalla, an amazing look at the belly of the beast which is worth reading for anyone who wants to understand how the police bureaucracy in a police/military state like Egypt actually runs. Since then, he's written another two pieces: one, a letter calling for Bob Carr to intervene, and another speculating as to the reasons why his arrest may be preceeding. As usual, Austin is able to see how the issue (in this case, his own arrest) gets to the heart of the post-January 25 balance of forces in Egypt and what it says for the ongoing revolutionary struggle.

The "Iron Lady" he identifies, Fayza Aboul-Naga is, according to Ahram Online, more well known internationally than General Tantawi; I doubt this is actually true, but either way it bodes poorly for Austin's case if it's become part of the maneuvering amongst Egypt's corrupt bureaucrats. Deckchairs on the Titanic, etc etc... And either way, it means pressure from the Australian government may make a real difference in the outcome, either for Austin's freedom to work or at the very least his freedom to leave the country.

Bob Carr probably won't be inclined to do this, given that he's about as corrupt a bureacrat as they come (check out this video on what he actually stands for), so your pressure is needed. I'd encourage everyone to sign the petition, or check out the series of letters to members of parliament Austin's posted on his blog, write your own, and come to the next protest calling for the government to take action.

Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator, speaking at the rally, 11/03 - photo courtesy of Kate Ausburn

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon spoke at the rally, and said that the Greens will be actively pursuing this issue through the parliament. According to her twitter account, the motion they put calling for the government to take action passed the senate this evening.

Yours Truly speaking at the rally, 11/03... photo courtesy of Kate Ausburn

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


In February this blog had its 2000th pageview. It's now sitting on 2256.

February was the month with the highest pageviews during this blog's existence sofar, reaching 653 (the same number as during October & November 2011 combined, when I was blogging during my travels and volunteering in Palestine).

During February, the highest traffic posts were Interview with the Palestinian People's Party, On Revolutionary Organisations Today (which is the highest individual post, with 212 discrete pageviews), and Eyewitness - Occupy Sydney - Day 116.

My biggest sources of traffic have been Facebook (where my post of On Revolutionary Organisations Today started exactly the kind of small-minded sectarian infighting between socialists that I was writing against), The Moor Next Door, Wikipedia and LINKS International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

With these things in mind, I'm going to be writing some posts about Australian politics in March, as well as Arab world politics.