|Issue No 110||07 September 2001|
Sydney's Salsa for Saharawis
By Stephanie Brennan
Sydney-siders packed the Harbourside Brasserie's dance floor and salsa-ed, grooved and shook their booty to the sounds of popular eight piece Afro-Carribean band, BaBalu this week.
On the dance floor human rights lawyers and trade union leaders mixed dance steps with students as well as activists of all kinds including those from East Timorese and Burmese solidarity groups and humanitarian NGO's. Beneath the shadow of Sydney's Harbour Bridge the Harbourside Brasserie resounded with chanting as the crowd shouted 'Viva Polisario! Free Western Sahara! ' when Jagath Bandera of the Western Sahara Alliance took the microphone in between sets.
Earlier in the night the vibrant dance troupe Metro Flamenco wowed the crowd with their elegant flamenco steps and earned encores and wild applause. Tomas Dietz, of Metro Flamenco, said later "It was a great feeling in the room, it was fantastic, people were so responsive." The dramatic red, white and black costumes of the flamenco artists were shown to great effect as they danced on stage with a huge Western Sahara banner behind them - FREE WESTERN SAHARA painted in red letters over the red, white, green and black of the Polisario flag.
Kamal Fadel, the Polisario's Representative in Australia spoke to the crowd after the accoustic duo Soiree opened the evening's entertainment. He told them of the current situation in Western Sahara and how it has deteriorated with the UN's consideration of James Baker's recommendation to abandon the referendum. He asked them to do all they could to pressure the Australian government and the international community to support the referendum on self-determination that's been promised for 10 years. He was greeted with warm enthusiasm by the crowd who then packed the dance floor as BaBalu continued playing late into the night.
Organisers of the event were ecstatic and declared the event a huge success. "It exceeded even our expectations, and is a testament to the strength of feeling Australians have for the Saharawi people's tragic situation once they find out about it," said Natalie Joughin of the Western Sahara Alliance. Paul Reid of the Australian Western Sahara Assocation agreed. "AWSA is very happy with tonight", he said. "We need to build on this to continue our campaign here in Australia even more vigorously as we try to ensure the international community don't allow the UN Security Council to vote down the referendum in November."
Money raised by the Western Sahara Alliance and donated to AWSA will be used to bring a Saharawi woman out from the Refugee Camps on a speaking tour to educate Australians about her people's plight.
Interview: Cast Adrift
Ethnic Communities Council chair Salvatore Scevola gives his take on the Tampa saga and the underlying attitudes driving the debate.
Workplace: Coming to Australia
Jagath Banderra recounts his own experience as a new arrival in Australia entering the workforce.
Human Rights: Long Road to Nowhere
Iraqi refugees travel the same tortuous road as Afghans. The refugees on the Tampa have almost certainly endured a similar ordeal.
Immigration: Experience Required
Veronica Apap looks at the many difficulties migrants face in having their skills recognised in Australia.
International: Why Economic Rationalism Isn't
The CFMEUs Phil Davey surveys the wreckage after 10 years of Brazil's Government doing what the free marketeers want.
History: Johnny's Naruan Wet Dream
Rowan Cahill looks at how Australia's preferred refugee dumping ground's history is indelibly linked with our own.
Unions: Getting the Message Out
Caroline Alcorso argues the integration of immigrant workers into the trade union movement has been a central issue in Australia’s post-war labor history.
Work/Time/Life: Driven To The Edge
In the ACTU’S groundbreaking Fifty Families report there is one particularly sobering story. Frank tells how the modern workplace is driving some people to the fatal edge.
Review: Whose Party?
NSW Labor’s century of successes began in 1910, as did the “middle classing” of Labor policy.
Satire: Ethnic Wog Gangs Rape Everyone
People who are white in colour are being raped by people who are not white, an exclusive Chaser investigation found last week.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005