Lee Rhiannon, a former federal Senator and NSW state MP for the Greens, currently works with a range of communities on campaigns for peace with justice in their counties of origin. Lee has a deep commitment to international solidarity.
Lee works closely with Australian representatives of the global organisation, Stand With Kashmir. When Lee was a Senator she spoke in parliament about the struggle of the Kashmir people for self-determination. In 2018 she visited Kashmir and in February 2019 she spoke at an international forum on Kashmir held in the British House of Commons. Since the Modi government’s take over of Kashmir in August 2019 Lee has participated in many protests and forums and she returned to the federal parliament to speak at a forum to oppose India’s actions and in support of self-determination for Kashmir.
Lee has been a longtime supporter of Palestine. She visited the West Bank and Gaza in 2014 and returned to the West Bank in 2017. Lee has supported many Palestinian rights campaigns including the international Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions campaign. As an MP Lee took the Palestinian cause into parliament on many occasions moving motions and speaking about the war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing against the Palestinian people.
In 2013 Lee visited Sri Lanka as a member of a parliamentary delegation to meet with members of the Tamil community and NGO representatives. The purpose was to gather first hand accounts of the impact the oppression of the Tamil community. Lee was briefly detained by Sri Lankan authorities during this visit.
At different times Lee has also supported the struggles of West Papuans, Kurds, Rohingyas, Papua New Guineas, Bangladeshis, Filipinos, West Saharans and communities in the Pacific and Latin America.
In 2001 Lee joined an International Peace Mission to Basilan and Zamboanga in the Philippines. The Mission, lead by Walden Bello, was a joint project of Focus on the Global South (Bangkok), Institute for Popular Democracy (Manila) and Transnational Institute Mk(Amsterdam). Despite attacks on the Mission by the then Filipino President Gloria Arroyo, Lee and the delegation judged the work was a success. Human rights violations committed by the Filipino military were exposed by the Mission, which concluded dialogue rather than military confrontation should be pursued.
In the early 1990s along with Carol Sherman, Lee founded AID/WATCH. This Australian based NGO exposed numerous abuses of aid funding channelled through the World Bank and various bilateral programs including the assistance given to coal companies that ran to millions of dollars. AID/WATCH campaigned against Australian aid money going to overseas projects that helped boost the profits of Australian companies. The result for local people was often disastrous with a loss of livelihood and massive local environmental damage. In 1994 AID/WATCH organised possibly Australia’s first climate action protest at an AusAID (the then government aid and development agency) sponsored event in Brisbane. Lee was a director of AID/WATCH for six years from 1993 to 1998.
From 1989 to 1991 Lee was the public relations officer for the Ideas Centre, a resource centre and library, specialising in third world, environment and development issues. Lee helped to initiate, organise funding and and manage the Pactok Program that brought information technology training to Pacific and PNG non-government organisations. (Pactok – pidgeon language for Pacific talk)
As a young woman Lee supported the campaigns to end Apartheid in South Africa and the war in Vietnam. She was arrested at a protest against the then racist South African Springbok cricket team. While Lee was at high school in the 1960s she helped organise a number of protests against the Vietnam War including a protest by school students, who bused to Canberra to take their message to the US Embassy and the federal parliament.