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Issue # 1415      17 June 2009

Tribute to Comrade Freda Brown

Freda Brown was an outstanding leader in the fight for the rights of women and Aborigines in Australian and international struggles, always opposing racism, injustice and war.

She was a woman of integrity, humanity and commitment, honest, dedicated and courageous.

In a long life of struggle and achievement, she was active in the national and international campaigns which have shaped the world in which we live.

One of Freda’s deepest commitments was to the rights of women, in Australia and around the world. She helped to form the Union of Australian women, a national working class women’s organisation that worked closely with the trade unions.

Freda was instrumental in getting the United Nations to declare 1975 International Women’s Year. In the same year she was elected as President of the Women’s International Democratic Federation and remained in that post until 1990.

Freda joined the Communist Party of Australia in 1936 and plunged into the struggle against fascism and war. Her commitment to peace with justice remained a central point of her activities throughout her life.

She was a member of the CPA’s Central Committee between 1968 and 1972 but left the party then, believing it was no longer working in the interests of the working class.

She was a true internationalist in words and deeds.

She was one of the first westerners to enter the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps after the 1982 slaughter; she visited Vietnam during the war and went to Cambodia shortly after the overthrow of Pol Pot. In the 1970s and ’80s she worked for the defeat of apartheid in South Africa. She travelled with the Polisario Front in the Western Sahara and worked for the rights of women in Afghanistan.

Freda was widely admired and respected in Australia and internationally. In addition, she was honoured for her work during her lifetime. She was the only Australian woman to receive the Lenin Peace Prize which she was given in 1977. On International Women’s Day in 2004 she was honoured by the South African government for her work to help free their country from apartheid.

Freda’s death is a matter of grief and pain, but her life is a matter of pride and rejoicing. Her example will remain an inspiration to future generations.

Central Committee
Communist Party of Australia
June 2009

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