6 min read

Latest articles and upcoming events: May 2024

May 2024 rundown of what I've been doing and thinking about
Latest articles and upcoming events: May 2024

Hey friends!

I'm back!

I probably don't need to tell you that profit-driven social media platforms have become an increasingly unreliable source of uncensored news, and the biases and omissions of the mainstream media are more glaring than ever.

Consequently, the humble email newsletter seems to be re-emerging as one of the most effective ways to access and share crucial info and commentary. So thanks for reading this one!

After a short post-election holiday, I’ve jumping back into writing and organising. I’m gonna be producing two or three articles/artworks per week, which you can find at www.jonathansri.com, and I’m aiming to send out an email newsletter once per month with links to the most important pieces, plus updates on upcoming events I’m involved in, and shorter news bites towards the bottom.

Last week, I was fortunate to speak alongside John Shipton – Julian Assange's father – at a forum in Paddington. I've also been spending a bit of time at the UQ Gaza Solidarity Camp, which is definitely worth checking out and supporting.

Here’s a rundown of events you’re warmly invited to, followed by a list of stuff I’ve produced recently…

Upcoming events

Nakba to Mullivaikkal: Genocidal Parallels from Tamil Eelam to Palestine

This Friday, 17 May, 12:15 to 1:30pm at Gaza Solidarity Camp, Great Court, UQ St Lucia
In 2009, in the final moths of the Sri Lankan civil war, the Sinhalese nationalist government directed Tamil civilians to evacuate to so-called safe zones, then bombed those areas, herding people across the island until they had nowhere else to go. The final death toll was conservatively estimated at 40 000 to 70 000. The tactics and rhetoric used by the Israeli government today is eerily reminiscent of the Sri Lankan government in the late 2000s.

I’ll be facilitating a forum organised by Brisbane Free University, Students for Palestine and a range of other groups for a forum to discuss what we can learn from the parallels between these two genocides. If you use Facebook, please invite friends to this event. You can also share this post on Instagram.

Justice for Palestine Rally and March

Sunday, 19 May, 3pm at King George Square
This week marks the 76th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their lands) and an escalation in Israel’s ongoing slaughter and displacement of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Please come along and bring your friends. Spread the word by sharing this Facebook event link.

Documentary Screening of Things Will Be Different + Forum discussion about housing

Monday, 20 May, 6:30pm at Palace Barracks Cinema, 61 Petrie Tce, Brisbane
On Monday evening, I’m speaking at the Brisbane launch of Things Will Be Different – a documentary about the experiences of public housing tenants who are evicted by the Victorian government. This should be a good opportunity to learn more about the struggle to defend public housing down south and to hear from a range of housing advocates. Tickets are $26 – you can grab them at this link.

Come watch me perform some poetry + Open mic and forum discussion about multiculturalism

Monday, 27 May, 6:30pm / 8pm at 102 Main St, Kangaroo Point
BEMAC is hosting a 6:30pm panel discussion on the topic 'Can Multiculturalism be taken seriously in the Arts?' then at 8pm I’ll be performing a feature set of poetry, followed by an open mic session where performing artists of all disciplines are invited to jump up to share some of your work. If you have a poem or song or stand-up comedy routine or just a political rant that you’d like to share, please come along.

Both the 6:30pm forum and the 8pm open mic session are free entry and open to all ages. Here’s a Facebook event for my 8pm poetry show and open mic session. And here’s the link for the 6:30pm forum

Recent works

What’s it really like on the ground at UQ’s Gaza Solidarity Camp?

Students and staff have established a protest camp in the University of Queensland Great Court in solidarity with the people of Gaza and to call on UQ to end its cozy relationships with the weapons industry. This write-up offers an overview of how things are feeling on the ground.

On Being Doppelgangered

Many of you will already have read my piece On Being Doppelgangered, which unpacks my experiences of being targeted by a racist smear campaign during the recent city council election. I’ve now added an audio narration of the article, so if you haven’t had time to read it yet, you can listen to it while cooking dinner or going for a walk or whatever.

Tea Leaves and Troublemakers

This 8-minute audio essay explores how the narratives that migrant families often tell about ourselves sometimes gloss over the messy realities of an unjust immigration system, and serve to draw false distinctions between supposedly ‘legitimate’ migrants and so-called troublemakers. Give it a listen while you’re doing the dishes!

Reflections on the Greens result in the BCC election

This piece was written on 21 March and updated with additional commentary on 11 April. If you’re trying to get your head around how the Greens did in the Brisbane City Council election (and why the party didn’t win more seats), this ended up being a fairly long and in-depth analysis.

In the next few days I’ll be churning out some commentary about the fate of live music venues in Brissie, a longer read about Barrambin/Victoria Park and our city’s obsession with endless construction, as well as some reflections on how we should collectively respond to police arresting people at protests.

I’d really appreciate your feedback on what topics you’re most interested in seeing me write about… One subscriber has already asked what it’s like to live on a houseboat, so I’ve started working on a piece about that, but I’d love to know if you’re more interested in local urban planning issues, or broader commentary about the Greens and electoral politics, or theorising about racism and colonialism, or a mix of all of that, or something else entirely.

Feedback is also welcome on the format of these emails and anything I can do to make the more accessible. Let me know!

News snippets not many people pay attention to...

More corporate handous

Recently, Stephen Miles announced that the Queensland Government will contribute:

  • a record $4.5 million towards BeefWeek – a massive week-long expo in Rockhampton promoting the beef industry
  • a substantial $20 million directly to mining company EQ Resources to expand its Tungsten mining operations at Mt Carbine, and
  • $21 million towards four different gas companies to explore for new gas reserves in the Bowen Basin.

Grants like these are extremely common. These three examples highlight that so-called ‘job-creating’ industries like gas extraction, precious metals mining and even beef production continually receive significant ongoing state subsidies and direct funding to remain profitable. Why do environmentally-destructive for-profit companies receive government handouts, while other more socially valuable industries – like the arts – get left with crumbs?

Major public asset sale of the Woolloongabba Cross River Rail site

Recently the State Government announced that its Priority Development Area scheme around central Woolloongabba will allow buildings up to 75 storeys high. This effectively hands over millions of dollars of additional real estate value to private property speculators who own sites around the Gabba, and also facilitates the proposed sell-off of public land on the Cross River Rail site itself to private developers.

This appears to be the largest sell-off of inner-city publicly-owned land since the Queens Wharf Casino site. Greens MP Amy MacMahon has shared more info about the PDA at this link.

South Bank Masterplan finalised

The State Government has also recently signed off on the new Future South Bank masterplan for arguably Brisbane’s busiest and most significant public space. Release of this plan is several years behind schedule. It’s good to finally have some clarity about what direction the parklands will evolve in, although I expect the masterplan will be chopped and changed repeatedly over the next few years in response to changing demands from Olympic organisers and other commercial interest groups. 

Disappointingly but unsurprisingly, most of the criticisms and insights from this joint submission I produced (along with Max Chandler-Mather and Amy MacMahon) back in January 2023 seem to have been ignored. 

While there are some really positive ideas in the masterplan, it’s a shame that the wider public has so little meaningful control over the future of this regionally significant public site.

Thanks for supporting this!

This is my first email newsletter in my post-Greens candidate phase of life, and I’m feeling very grateful that already a couple dozen people have signed up as paid subscribers to support me to keep writing. Thank you so much!

If you’re financially in a position to switch from a free to a paid subscription, that’ll ensure more people are able to access and follow my work even if they can’t contribute financially themselves, and will allow me to dive deeper into important issues.

Paid subscriptions also help me make time to organise political events like the above-mentioned forum at UQ this Friday. So even if you don’t personally manage to read or watch absolutely everything I churn out, please know that your contribution is indirectly funding more free community events that bring people together.

If you can’t make it to UQ on Friday but you’re interested in hearing more about the connections between the Palestinian genocide and the 2009 Tamil genocide, I’ll also be speaking with Anna Carlson about this topic on 4ZZZ radio (102.1FM) this coming Thursday morning from 9am (you can also listen back online later via this link).

Hopefully I’ll see you at an upcoming event sometime soon!

Warm regards,

Jonathan Sriranganathan
No fixed address