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Thailand: In 2012 lèse majesté will be litmus test for democracy

[Yingluck Shinawatra tours flood-ravaged areas with army commander-in-chief General Prayut Chan-ocha.]
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
January 2, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In July 2011 millions of Red Shirts turned out to vote for the Pheu Thai party, headed by Yingluck Shinawatra. The party won a landslide majority despite various attempts by the military, the media and the elites to place obstacles in the path of the party's victory. The election result was a slap in the face for the military and the “party of the military” (the mis-named Democrat Party).
But the signs were bad for the Red Shirts from the beginning. The new government did nothing about the Red Shirt political prisoners and the important issue of bringing ex-prime minister Abhisit, his deputy Sutep and the military generals Prayut [army commander-in-chief Prayuth Chan-ocha] and Anupong to justice for their key roles in gunning down nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians in 2010.

China: Misery in Santa's workshop -- inside China's toy factories

[This 2004 film shows that little has changed.]

December 23, 2011 -- A new report by Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) reveals the terrible working conditions endured by workers who produce many of the toys that will be enjoyed by children in the Western world this Christmas.

Asian left and workers' groups support Freeport workers

[Freeport mine workers on strike.]
December 22, 2011 -- The statement below was released by a range of Asian left and workers' organisations on December 11.
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Workers at the Freeport-McMoRan Grasberg mine in West Papua are striking for a wage increase.
The strike started on September 15 and it involves nearly 12,000 workers. It was called after the negotiation between the union and the management went into deadlock.

West Papua: Freeport workers continue strike - solidarity needed

Workers at the Grasberg mine in West Papua have been harrassed and attacked by Freeport management since they began their strike for wage increases in September.
Australia Asia Worker Links report: Workers at the huge copper and gold mine in West Papua have announced that the strike will be extended till 15 December.

South Korea: Military base planned on 'peace' island

November 27, 2011 -- The South Korean government is building a naval base on Jeju Island, officially named the “Island of World Peace”. The base will be one of the largest in the world. The island is located just under 300 miles from the Chinese mainland.
It will be home to both United States and South Korean warships. It will include 20 large destroyers, two aircraft carriers, two nuclear submarines, the Aegis ballistic missile defense system and 6000 soldiers.

Afghanistan war 'debate' needs to reflect majority view

[Anti-war activists held a protest outside federal parliament in Canberra during Barack Obama's Australian visit. Photo: Pip Hinman.]
By Pip Hinman,
Green Left Weekly
November 26, 2011 -- “Gillard and Abbott fly in and out of Afghanistan under heavy protection from harm. Both curry political advantage from the khaki vote. The rest of us see young Ozzie lives ripped apart without any obvious gain to ordinary Afghans. Let the pollies go and fight their own useless war …”

Malaysia : Back to the Dark Ages of sexual taboo

By Bunga MelurNovember 23, 2011 -- Since 2008, Seksualiti Merdeka (Independent Sexuality) festival, the LGBTiQ's main vehicle for awareness raising and education made its contribution to Malaysian society in a beautiful, intellectually artistic manner, devoid of vulgarity.
It made “straight” heterosexual society realise and appreciate that other forms of sexual love existed and that these could be as genuine as a woman-man love. It had been and still is a struggle for gay men and women to survive even in apparently liberal-minded societies.

Papua New Guinea: Landowners resist illegal logging

By Ash Pemberton, Green Left Weekly
November 13, 2011 -- The role of notorious Malaysian-owned logging company Rimbunan Hijau (RH) is in the spotlight after Greenpeace activists blockaded one of its ships in Papua New Guinea on October 24.
Greenpeace was supporting about 200 local landowners from West Pomio, in New Britain, who were protesting against what they say was illegal logging by RH, AAP said on October 24.

New decree bans Fiji workers’ rights to collective bargaining

[Fijian Trades Union Congress President Daniel Urai.]
November 9, 2011 -- The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) released the following statement on November 9.
* * *
The rights of Fijian workers have deteriorated further following the start of a draconian decree that effectively bans collective bargaining.