Political Polemics - Part 1
Political Polemics - Part 3
Political Polemics - Part 4
Political Polemics - Part 5
This picture, on the front page of The Age newspaper on Thursday 19 July 2007, sent shudders through my system. My first thought was that it was a Steve Biko situation - picture to yourself September/October 1977, when the South African apartheid police state regime beat up Steve Biko in Port Elizabeth, and then put the dying, naked man in the back of a police van and drove him 750km to Pretoria where he was, of course, dead on arrival! The photos below of Steve Biko's brutal treatment by that heinous government are from Donald Woods' book on Biko.
The Howard government is not really very different - it has long had established concentration camps where scrutiny of the treatment of people locked up in them is not subject to monitoring by human rights groups who are basically prevented from inspecting them. The treatment being given to Dr Mohammed Haneef is beginning to look very similar to the South African humna rights abuses, when one sees a pictuer of a barefoot man in a position of total humiliation locked in a police van for Kafkaesque type "crimes" which he has - or has not - committed!
The Howard government is already guilty of so many human rights abuses in its 11 years in power that another one should barely rate a mention, but this one has overtones of the David Hicks affair and may yet end up as a cause celebre of huge proportions like the Dreyfus affair in France at the turn of the 20th century. The Hneef affair looks like it will add to the other abuses of the Howard government's record in the early years of the21st century.
The government is busy showing that it is a law unto itself, that it is not answerable to the courts of the land, and when the laws operate in a way which stops them from their excesses, they will change the law accordingly. This has been more or less stated by the main law officer of the country, the federal attorney general, Philip Ruddock, who looks more and more like the vicious rulers of apartheid South Africa every day that passes! And he still has the absolute audacity to wear an Amnesty International badge, and Amnesty International is sufficiently lily-livered to not kick Ruddock out of its membership! Shame on all of them!
And just as much shame- perhaps even more so - on the loyal federal opposition, the Alternative Liberal Party or ALP, for supporting this corrupt government every step of the way! And all in the name of anti-terrorism.
Why does one remember the 12 February 1978 Hilton Bombing in Sydney with a sense of deja vu in relation to smears and making them stick to the extent that in the Hilton bombing case, three innocent men, Allister, Dunn and Anderson spent 7 years behind bars, were released, and a few years later Anderson was again charged and locked up for a further 3 years - all not so long ago, in the late 1980s and early 1990s?
Let us also not forget that Howard and his govenment have been complicit with George W Bush and Tony Blair from the beginning in ensuring they would have Iraqi oil for as long as it lasts, and that these countires are guilty of all the extreme human rights abuses taking place in that benighted country on a daily basis. It was no doubt only by accident that the Abu Ghraib scandal surfaced, but it didn't stop "Rendition" by the US, nor did it stop all the other ongoing abuses by all of them
As one looks at the pictures of the degrading death of Steve Biko at the hands of his torturers in the South African regime, and then one looks at the top picture of the degrading situation of Dr Haneef perpetrated by the Howard regime, one can't help but be drawn to the parallels in all these situations.
What the outcome will be, no one can guess at this stage. All one can say to date - on 21 July 2007 - is that it does seem at last as if the Australian population has had enough of the ghastly behaviour of its government, even some of the more conservative elements of this society, so maybe, just maybe, there will be enough presuure to drive out these evil people and attempts will be made to keep the next evil people under better control.
One has to have some hope, otherwise what is the point of it all?
This item was sent to us today, 21 July 2007, and is being posted here for a wider audience to understand the behaviour of all those involved:
Greg Barns writes:
The handling of Mohammed Haneef’s case by the Howard government and the law enforcement agencies grows more problematic everyday In fact, one wonders now if Dr Haneef is the victim of some serious injustice.
The Australian’s Hedley Thomas has conducted a thorough analysis, comparing the leaked Haneef record of interview with the affidavit material the AFP and its lawyers put before the courts to justify both the original detention without charge and their opposition to bail for Dr Haneef.
It’s worth recounting what Thomas has found because it raises serious questions about the integrity of this investigation. In two key areas it appears that Dr Haneef has been "verballed" by the authorities.
Firstly, according to Thomas, “The police affidavit states: 'On 2 July and 3 July 2007 Dr Haneef participated in a taped record of interview with the AFP and stated the following: Whilst in the UK he resided with suspects 1 and 2 (alleged suicide bomber Kafeel Ahmed and his brother Dr Sabeel Ahmed), at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool.'"
But as Thomas says, “However, in the record of interview ... Dr Haneef tells police that he lived at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool, with several doctors, whom he names. None are the two suspects. Dr Haneef tells police he visited Cambridge on two occasions in 2004 and stayed for up to six days with Kafeel Ahmed. Dr Haneef also states that he had moved out of 13 Bentley Road when Dr Sabeel Ahmed subsequently stayed there."
Yet, Thomas notes, an Immigration Department document used to advise Mr Andrews, states "Dr Haneef advised the AFP that he resided with Dr Sabeel Ahmed at a boarding house located at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool, UK."
Second, the police affidavit, according to Thomas, “asserts that Dr Haneef, 27, a Gold Coast Hospital registrar since September last year, 'had no explanation as to why he did not have a return ticket' from India to Australia. Dr Haneef, whose wife, Firdous Arshiya, gave birth to their first child by emergency caesarean section on June 26 in Bangalore, India, was trying to leave Australia on July 2 on a one-way ticket bought the same day by his father-in-law in India.''
Thomas then writes, “While the police affidavit stated Dr Haneef 'had no explanation' about his one-way ticket, the record of interview shows that he gave a detailed explanation to police while answering questions. Dr Haneef told police that as he did not have funds in his Australian bank account his father-in-law had booked and paid for the one-way ticket with an understanding that "when I go there we can arrange for the coming back ticket. Because I just got 7 days' leave approved".
If there is no explanation for these discrepancies then legitimate questions can be raised about the AFP and Immigration Department’s conduct in this matter. Verballing a suspect – that is, twisting what they say or putting words in their mouth -- is about as serious a breach of fairness as there is. It’s an age old practice which has been mitigated in recent years by the use of taped and video recorded interviews by police with suspects.
Instead of Mr Ruddock and Mr Keelty pointing the finger at the brave and principled actions of Dr Haneef’s barrister Stephen Keim in releasing his client’s record of interview to The Australian this week, they should be looking long and hard at the actions of their own officers and lawyers.
As the detention of Doctor Haneef once more highlights the seemingly limitless power of the Immigration Act, it is worth remembering other cases where people have been released by the Courts and the Immigration Minister has then turned gaoler under his own powers. When charges were dismissed for lack of evidence, the 27 crew members of the Pong Su were released by the Court, only to be scooped up by the Immigration department (then DIMA-now DIAC) and taken out to Baxter detention centre. There they languished in secret in a formerly, unused compound until the day that other detainees became aware of their presence.
Policy changes in the Baxter hellhole allowed detainees to be escorted on foot between compounds instead of in locked vans. On one such occasion, detainees attention was called to this never used compound by cries and eyes peering over the compound walls. Detainee contacted advocates with their concern for these people. “We don’t know who they are but they are crying for help and we can only see their eyes. We don’t think that they are Chinese- we can’t understand their language.” The guard asked them to disregard what they had seen because “you will get me in trouble”.
Subsequent investigations revealed that they might be the crew of the ‘Pong Su’. This was confirmed when a list of names was produced. The list indicated the likelihood that many of these sailors were most likely fathers and sons. They were not seeking asylum. They desperately wanted to go home to their families but DIMA were holding them for their own purposes. It was only after it was revealed how distressed they were at being held incommunicado that they were finally granted their wish to leave- 13 weeks after the Courts had found them not guilty of any crime.
Technically the power to detain under the Migration act is so that persons can be removed from Australia, however as we have witnessed in the case of long term detainees, this power in reality allows the Australian government to hold a person for their entire lives without charge or judicial oversight.http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1060109.htm http://www.abc.net.au/news/australia/vic/bendigo/200603/s1584323.htm http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/20/1050777169083.html
By Charles Richardson
Another remarkable development yesterday in the sad case of Dr Mohamed Haneef, when his legal advisers opted not to post bail, and he was therefore transferred to Wolston Correctional Centre in Brisbane instead of being sent to immigration detention The obvious conclusion is that immigration detention -- which is, remember, primarily for people who not only haven't been convicted but have not even been accused of any crime -- is regarded as worse than prison, even though in the latter he will be in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
The usual rationale for immigration detention is that it's a regrettable necessity for the protection of the community. People arrive on small boats from who knows where, often with no identification, so they need to be interned while their claims are assessed and proper checks are undertaken on their health, criminal record and so on.
But if this were really the basis for the system, there would be no reason why detention should be like prison, except for the maintenance of security. Inmates would be guarded, but otherwise treated like guests, not prisoners, with all their usual rights of personal movement and social interaction preserved.
In fact, immigration detention is nothing like that. Detention centres are like maximum security prisons, run by the same sort of personnel with the same sort of rules.
This makes plain what the government sometimes admits in its more honest moments: that the purpose of immigration detention is deterrence. The experience is supposed to be unpleasant, to deter other refugees from exercising their legal right to come here to apply for asylum.
The same goes for other sorts of preventative detention, such as the measures now available in most states to keep certain offenders in jail after the expiration of their sentences if they are found to be still "dangerous". If this was really about the protection of the community, there would be no reason to treat them like prisoners.
But it's not about protection, and at some level it's probably not really about deterrence either. It's about punishment. Governments don't like asylum seekers, or s-x offenders, or people awaiting trial, and they think they deserve whatever happens to them, regardless of what the law says.
It's just possible that Dr Haneef's case will open a few people's eyes on the subject.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE:
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The latest from John Howard is something called "aspirational nationalism". Howard seems lately to have been inspired by Hitler's philosophies and actions after he became Chancellor of Germany on 31 January 1933.
Interfering in states' and territories' rights and taking over their functions, as Howard is doing and threatening to do more and more is nationalising and federal controlling of the rights of citizens throughout the country. Added to the anti-terrorism legislation, control of both houses of parliament and a pliant opposition which doesn't oppose and you have a one party state.
This opens the way to a police state and a declaration of a state of emergency, as Howard is hoping to do during or after the APEC meeting in Sydney on 8 September 2007 and you are left with no possiblility of opposition.
Concentration camps have been operating in Australia since Paul Keating had them set up in 1992, and already they are being used to confine those deemed by the state to be a threat - they are labelled terrorists and they have been accused of plotting the violent overthrow of the government. Many have not yet appeared in court and nor have they been charged with any offences, but have been confined under the harshest conditions without recourse to legal representation.
Post Nazi Germany we have had Stalinist USSR, Pinochet's Chile,apartheid South Africa, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Chairman Mao's China - to mention only a few of the 20th century's ghastly regimes - and it is easy to see how a country can head down the path of totalitarianism.
It is not enough to be afraid, as one is, it is necessary for those still able to vote, to vote this government out of existence and to ensure that all future governments are held to account every step of the way.
If we fail we are doomed!
Dear NSWCCL,Just the fact that the Howard Government abandoned Habeas Corpus should have made it a social pariah, especially with those who believe in the rule of law & human rights. Instead of people like me, the Pine Gap 4, the Talisman Sabre Peace Convergence, Rising Tide, Greenpeace, etc. resorting to acts of civil disobedience, it would be preferable if groups like Amnesty, Councils for Civil Liberties, University Law Faculties, etc. practiced what they preached, and brought formal legal charges against the Howard Government for its War Crimes (as listed in my Citizens Arrest Warrant).
I have yet to receive a response to my various email/letters to you re my arrest at the UNSW symposium, or to my request for you to publish my statements in 'Civil Liberty'.
However, I have received your Membership Renewal
letter from NSWCCL?s Secretary, Stephen Blanks.
Given my experience of issues like
(1) how you handled the Packer court case,
(2) your refusal to give me any advice or support over my arrest at the UNSW symposium and
(3) your reluctance to publish my criticism of the NSWCCL in Civil Liberty,
my doubts about your organisation are growing. (Incidently, the charge from the UNSW symposium has now been dropped, as a result of a request from UNSW to the police for it not to proceed.)
I find your response to things like the above issues hypocritical and inconsistent with your stated principles; eg. civil liberties and free speech. Consider also Stephen Blanks' hand-written note, at the end of the membership renewal letter: "Peter, Keep up the protesting, mate!" (Compare this with his more public comment to Allen Jasson below.) Also please consider Stephen's response to Allen Jasson (see below - & Stephen has yet to respond to Allen's criticism of Stephen's initial minimal reply. ) With many others ? like Allen Jasson, Marie McKern, Vacy Vlazna, etc - I call on you to practice what you preach, & bring formal legal charges against the Howard Government for its War Crimes as listed in my citizens arrest warrant. I also request that you publish this letter, & also Stephen's & Allen's correspondences, either in 'Civil Liberty' or on your web site. And I would appreciate a reply to this letter please. Yours in considerable disappointment,
firstname.lastname@example.org Add to Address Book
To: "Stephen Blanks"
Dear Mr Blanks,
Thank you for your attention to my email and your reply.
It seems to me that if a man wants to see the truth it will not escape him despite the limitations of his sight. While it is clear that I have been mistaken about some of the background facts and organisational relationships here, I have correctly understood that you, in an authorative capacity of NSWCCL have been dismissive and (now obviously) hostile towards Peter McGregor in his request for support, and that the arrest, charge and court action against him represent yet another abuse by the state of it's powers, those granted to maintain public order, by using them in a "Use of unnecessary force" manner with the deliberate intention of suppressing quite reasonable expressions of dissent and with the secondary intention of intimidating anyone else who might be so inclined. These are the essential truths here and I will speak more about them shortly.
On the other hand, there is none so blind as he who doesn't want to see. You have instantly rushed to the peripheral matters about which I was mistaken (which, for the purpose at hand could well have been discretely overlooked) because it suited your purpose to be able to open your reply with a grand sweep over the things about which I was under "misapprehension", even though they were in every instance, entirely irrelevant to the essential issue at hand. It truly was a magnificent piece of rhetoric, but like most rhetoric it contributes little of relevance to the substance of the discussion.
In all your attention to denigrating what you called a "stunt" on Peter's part as contributing nothing to further our common goals you failed to see that the civil liberties issue lay not in his action but in the response to it. In their heavy handed approach to denying Peter any right to express dissent they have:
Falsely applied charges of tresspass
(This is why Peter emphasised that he was attending as a member and had every right to be there - he was not attempting to lay claim to "represent" anyone or any organisation).
Falsely claimed that Peter assaulted Ruddock
Used arrest, charge and court action where all that was realistically necessary was to escort him from the premises and prevent his returning Peter's "stunt" was, after all, a pretty harmless action which, in perspective, made a significant point in an effective way at a good time (IMHO) There is a clear and obvious intention of these actions: to intimidate Peter and to deter others. It should be borne in mind that the right of political expression of us who number ourselves among those "others" (ie. unlike Ruddock and his ilk who - despite war crimes, ill-treatment of refugees and various other acts of inhumanity and illegality to their credit are invited to speak at length from the lectern of a public forum) is degraded these days to the level of gate-crashing and "stunts" in order to voice ideas such as Peter did on this occasion - "Why are you hosting this War Criminal? Why are you listening to this abuser of the rights of refugees?'
It is through these measures, abusing the powers entrusted to the state in apparently minor situations like these, that our rights are being daily eroded, and you choose simply to ignore them. Peter's "stunt" is far too undignified, too low-order to warrant the attentions of high-minded intellectuals like you and your little club or to sully your reputations with by any association.
I think, in the end, it is you who is misguided. Never mind the abuses of the past, I don't mean that they are unimportant, but they are safely bagged as winning goals for the enemy and accepted by the umpires. It is the abuses in progress that are the ones we can do something about. They are the key to preventing abuses in the future. They are the front line where we need to fight back, not stand aside while the wolves devour the victim.
I feel, in summing up, that your response to me is no less shameful than your response to Peter in that you attempted first to denigrate me personally and then to evade the valid points I was making in a smoke screen of attention to side issues and diversions with no apparent concern for the implication that it has for your short-sightedness.
Please feel free to provide copies of this response to your colleagues at the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.
From: Stephen Blanks [mailto:Stephen@sbalaw.com.au]Sent: Monday, 26 November 2007 5:55 AM
Dear AllenThank you for your email. I have given careful thought to it, and will provide copies to my colleagues at the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, together with this reply.
You seem to be writing on a misapprehension that I am an academic associated with the organisation of the conference at which Peter tried to effect his arrest of Mr Ruddock. I and the NSWCCL are not associated with the organisers of the conference. Also, I am not an academic, and the NSWCCL is not associated with UNSW. The UNSW journal would not be an appropriate place to publish a letter addressed to staff, students etc. at UNSW.
I appreciate Peter and you disagree with the way in which the NSWCCL and I have handled particular issues. However, I can assure you that the erosion of civil liberties in Australia over the last few years through a variety of shameful legislative and executive action is at the forefront of our minds and our efforts as an organisation. I would hope that you find some way to assist in achieving the common goal of exposing the human rights abuses of the past, and ensuring they cannot occur in the future.
However, I fail to see how a stunt like attempting to arrest the Attorney General during a conference can seriously be expected to further our common goals. I also remain unable to see how a commitment to civil liberties necessarily requires an endorsement of such a stunt.Regards, Stephen Blanks, Secretary, NSW Council for Civil Liberties
From: email@example.comSent: Tuesday, 13 November 2007 12:24 PM
Attention: Mr Stephen Blanks, Council for Civil Liberties and/or those whom it may concern
Dear Mr Blanks (et al),
I have recently read a response received by Mr Peter Mcgregor to a letter he sent to you requesting some support in which he sought to discuss issues around his arrest at the UNSW symposium, Law & Liberty in the War on Terror. He expressed a very understandable view that the NSW CCL might be willing/able to present at the trial a civil liberties position based on 3 issues he raised. He also requested that you publish "An open letter to staff, students, etc, UNSW" in the next issue of Civil Liberty.
While managing to evade expressing it directly you have refused him on all counts.
My own response to your lack of interest was that it is utterly surprising, but someone has used the word "shameful" and on reflection, especially in relation to the way your response denigrates Peter, I think it is a much better adjective.
Looked at simply in relation to the civil liberties issues at hand it is astonishing (to say the least) that you are not interested even in taking up Peter's request to discuss these issues; to hear what he has to say and state a position on the arguments he raises, one you could declare to public examination, which is what JS Mill would call the healthiest activity of a Liberal society. Indeed, I find it amazing that it is not you who have sought out Peter, given the present state of affairs concerning the erosion of civil liberties and the issues of war crimes that Peter sought to bring attention to and of which his arrest is a small part.
I am concerned here because it seems to me that you are obstructing and suppressing Peter's view, not only because of Peter's interests per se as an individual but because you are acting as an instrument (perhaps one piccolo) in a concert of obstruction and oppression of a system of views relating to terrorism, illegal war, war crimes, erosion of civil liberties and the manipulation of society by fear and intimidation, views that have been publicly demonstrated by 30 million people world wide in ways that remain prominent and persistent despite mountains of this systematic oppression. Much worse, you are acting from the helm of an organisation that purports to be a defender of views of this order.
[I have found from first-hand experience that the perpetrators of this system of oppression, of which you seem to be a part, and which reaches even to the Qantas boardroom, so fear the expression of this view that they cannot bear even to see it displayed in the form of an innocuous T-Shirt declaring Bush to be a Terrorist (they proclaim it "offensive" in circumstances where a denigration of the Pope in obscenities would go unnoticed).]
This systematic process has established over at least the past 60 years during which the voices that express such views have been silenced. All of the conduits of social communication (Television, Radio, Newspapers, Schools and Universities etc.) have been thoroughly commercialised and subjugated to the forces of the right. In short, freedom of speech has become, for the masses, the right to quietly whisper at a gathering of no more than two while for the privileged elites who control society it has become the right to own a newspaper, a television station or a global media network. The consequence of this "mild" imbalance, which you seem almost not to have noticed from the serene cloisters of academic purity, is that people like Peter McGregor, are carefully screened out by the gatekeepers from all of the platforms and forums now reserved for the privileged elite who number among the "invited speakers" at symposia and other forums held by public institutions such as USNW. They are reduced to the level of gate-crashing in order to give voice to a view that most certainly would otherwise have had no airing at all at your "symposium" which masquerades as a forum for public debate but is in fact nothing more than a platform from which extremists of the like of Philip Ruddock can shout once again their obscene views into the media megaphone.
When you silence and obstruct people like Peter and disparage them you really should take a good look at your own words and ask yourself Who has been excluded? Who has done the "exclusion of others " in modern times, for example in relation to Iraq and the 2M+ people in London alone who expressed opposition in 2003. In terms of the audience reach units of the now commercially owned conduits of social communication the dodgy dossier, the claims about Iraq involvement in 9/11, of seeking uranium and possessing WMD expressed by a handful of powerful people at the behest of a few unscrupulous oil barons, sounded trumpet tongued compared with the expressions of the 2M+ objectors.
These systematic processes have reduced us to a condition where the voice of reason among collective humanity is utterly silenced in favour of the greedy, the corrupt, the psycopathic, the war mongerering, the psychotically entrepreneurial and politically megalomanic. The consequences of this are plain to see all around us: a planet in decline with little hope of recovery, a gross obscession with war, arms development and insatiable "economic growth" while health care and education and welfare are reduced to a shoe-string budget; a social order in which the institutions of the state intended to serve law and order are surreptitiously coopted to the silencing of dissent.
And so, in this context your parsimonious words to Peter: "As a civil libertarian, you should know that no rights are absolute - all rights must be balanced against competing rights. You do not have a right to speak freely wherever(?) and whenever you choose to the exclusion of others seeking to exercise the same right. I do not see how this incident involves any unreasonable deprivation of you(?) your rights to free speech." speak volumes about any claims you might have to intellectual standing as an academic when you can utter such myopic paraphrase of textbook principles yet are utterly unable to apply them to the information that everywhere presents itself to us from every quarter that should make obvious to you how absurd is the situation of imbalance of public debate and free speech in our society and the world at large.
But coming to examine the other matters of how you have denigrated Peter it is another matter. I have spoken to Peter at length about this matter of the incident at the symposium and I have read much of the correspondence associated with it. Peter has spoken of being at the symposium as a member, and of how his membership was the basis of his right to be there. There has NEVER been even the least hint of a suggestion of Peter presuming to pose as a "representative" of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. I have not seen the actual text of Peter's letter to you so I would not go so far as to say there is dishonesty here but I will say that I believe it would be a very inept mind that would draw this interpretation from anything written by Peter.
On the other hand, in the matter of claiming that the organisers had requested police to not proceed with the charges against Peter when police have informed Peter that no such request was made seems to imply another of the various false assertions arising from this business, such as the claim thet Peter assaulted Ruddock - all contributing to a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts of what happened.
When people infiltrate the institutions that have been established to promote the cause of a particular view of society, such as for example the civil libertarian view, and coopt those institutions to the service of the opposing view, one of oppression of dissent and the right to express it, they not only evidence the fact that this opposing view is not one that can stand out in the light of day and speak for it's own worth but must operate through clandestine and surreptitious measures in the shadows; they also pin their hearts to the path of devious measures that reflect a fundamental lack of integrity. Where is the Council for Civil Liberties in all the debates and contests of recent years concerning illegal war and war crimes, illegal detention of refugees and accused terrorists even a matter so fundamental as the undermining of habeas corpus? They are hosting the likes of Philip Ruddock as an "invited speaker" to talk at length on the good reasons for liberating Iraq and stemming the tide of terrorists posing as refugees into his precious white Australia.
When will I hear loud and clear the voice of the Council for Civil Liberties calling for a fair and louder and more frequent expression of such truths as:There were no WMD
No, they are too busy disparaging the likes of Peter.
So I must say, Mr Blanks, your letter and the attitude you have expressed is disappointing.
Yours sincerely, Allen L Jasson
I am acknowledging receipt of your emails of 18 January and 11 March 2008. The University regards this matter as closed and will not respond to any further correspondence.
Victoria FinlayExecutive Officer to the Vice-Chancellor
firstname.lastname@example.org/03/2008 11:22 PM
Please acknowledge receipt of this email and advise when a response may be expected.
Mannie De Saxe----------------------------------------------------------- ------- Forwarded message follows -------
ATTENTION VICTORIA FINLAY
The fact that Peter McGregor died on 11 January 2008 does not mean that the matter between him and the University is now closed.
More than ever, it is necessary for the University to demonstrate that it is not a university in name only, but that the meaning of the word university is still understood to be that of an institution which upholds the traditions of a seat of learning.
The University, the Gilbert and Tobin Centre, the Law Faculty and the people involved in the events leading to the arrest of Peter McGregor need to make public apologies which are placed in the media in prominent positions so that the community is made aware of of the injustices of the actions taken to have Peter McGregor arrested and ignominiously thrown out of the University.
Until such time as this is done, the matter will not be laid to rest.
Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.
Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject: Your email to the Vice-ChancellorFrom: "Victoria Finlay"
Dear Mr McGregor,
I am responding to your email to the Vice-Chancellor. I understand that the police prosecution has been withdrawn. The University regards the matter as closed and will not respond to any further correspondence regarding the matter.
Victoria FinlayExecutive Officer to the Vice-Chancellor Office of the Vice-Chancellor
This article, from The Age newspaper on 16 April 2008 is further proof, if proof were needed, that China’s human rights record is even worse than that of the United States, and that is indeed something NOT to be proud of!
AT LEAST 1200 people were executed globally last year, with China leading the way among the world's most prolific users of the death penalty, Amnesty International says. The London-based human rights group warned, however, that those figures were only minimum estimates. The true extent of the use of capital punishment could not be known because in many countries state executions were shrouded in official secrecy. "The secretive use of the death penalty must stop: the veil of secrecy surrounding the death penalty must be lifted," Amnesty said in a statement. "Many governments claim that executions take place with public support. People therefore have a right to know what is being done in their name." In its report, released on Monday, Amnesty said that at least 1252 people had been executed in 24 countries around the world in 2007, 88% of which took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the US.
"The true figures were certainly higher," its report read.
Of the countries using the death penalty, China led the way with at least 470 executions, followed by Iran with more than 317, Saudi Arabia with a minimum of 143 and Pakistan with at least 135, according to Amnesty.
It challenged Beijing in particular to "end its secretive use of the death penalty and provide detailed information about the use of capital punishment" as China prepared to host the Olympic Games in August.
"In a country as vast as China with tight government controls on information and the media, only the authorities know the reality behind the use of the death penalty," the report read. Nearly 70 crimes can carry the death penalty in China, including tax fraud, stealing government tax receipts, damaging electric power facilities, selling counterfeit medicine, embezzlement, accepting bribes and drug offences, said Amnesty.
In another report earlier this month, Amnesty warned that China's human rights record was getting worse as Beijing tries to present a united front by cracking down on dissent. China's hopes of winning international prestige by sending the Olympic torch through 135 cities on five continents before the Games have already been severely dented. The early stages in London and Paris were overshadowed by demonstrations against Beijing's repression of protests in Tibet, and the San Francisco leg was also drastically curtailed and seen by relatively few people.
Article in The Age newspaper:
Aborigines, Sudanese and asylum seekers are subject to brutality.
'THEY see the colour first, mate,'' Koyock Gumwel, a young African-Australian, told a reporter in Melbourne. Meanwhile, police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland, though conceding there were some racists in Victoria Police, was busily detailing the steps taken to combat police racism, from neighbourhood soccer games to visits to Sudan in pursuit of cultural understanding.
What are the factors that converge in the stark experiences of 21-year-old Gumwel on a Melbourne street? Global, national and local forces are all in play, and racism old and new entwines.
On the other side of the country, hundreds of protesters gathered at the West Australian Parliament this week to hear about the death in custody of a 33-year-old Aboriginal man in Perth. Some of his six children huddled quietly on the steps, oblivious to the cameras and slogans. Their shock is palpable. He should have been in hospital, not prison, his brother said. He should not be dead.
The rally was called because of the WA government's inaction in another shocking case, that of the Wongai elder who was "cooked to death" in the back of a prison van on Australia Day in 2008. Despite the coroner's finding that a ''litany of errors'' placed Mr Ward (who cannot be fully identified for cultural reasons) in the scorching and airless container in which he died, his family have received no compensation and the WA government refuses to sever its contract for prisoner transport with the private operator 4GS.
Late on Wednesday afternoon, protesters ran the elusive Attorney-General to ground inside Parliament and a package for the family was hastily announced. It is a small win in a grim landscape. From the goldfields of WA to Queensland's Gold Coast, the catalogue goes on.
Yet another hearing opened into the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island six years ago, just as an 18-year-old man died in his Brisbane cell after being refused medical treatment. Reports of interference by Queensland's police union in the Palm Island case coincide with evidence that police at the Gold Coast watchhouse falsified logbooks only hours before another a prisoner died.
Early this month, the ABC reported on the case of a 59-year-old in New South Wales who died in a pool of his own bodily fluids in a prison van, despite seven other inmates shouting and banging on the walls to call attention to his plight. The NSW Department of Corrective Services will not release its policies on how its employees are supposed to respond in such instances.
Almost 20 years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, a culture of racism, cronyism and cover-up is evident in Australia. Its targets are overwhelmingly Aboriginal, but also caught up are young Sudanese-Australians in suburban Melbourne and asylum seekers held in the detention system.
A culture of impunity attends the loss and damage done to this society's apparently disposable lives, an impunity that extends even to the horrific manner of their deaths. There is minimal accountability for these casualties, or for the tragedy, suffering and trauma that are set in train for their families.
Neither globalisation, with its promises of cosmopolitanism and openness, nor neoliberalism, with its claims to privatised professionalism, has dissipated the culture of racism, impunity and cover-up that characterised our criminal justice system at the time of the royal commission. Instead, they have diffused and rearranged it in new constellations.
Especially since 2001, the war on terror and the focus on security have led to a hunt for enemies both at the borders and within the nation. Racial profiling, extended surveillance, saturation policing of public space: all are aspects of the obsession with identifying perceived "risk groups" and the targeting of racially marked suspects.
The privatisation of security through contractors such as 4GS and the militarisation of policing through the introduction of technologies developed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars produce new objects of threat, fear and risk: new targets.
They rationalise the spectacle of black bodies, whether Aboriginal or African, being harassed and moved on simply for standing on a city street, the abject figure of the shackled and handcuffed deportee at the airport, the building of more high-security prisons and detention centres protected from scrutiny by "commercial-in-confidence" agreements.
There is a paradox here. In a recent issue of the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies, Paul Amar asks why police practices nearly everywhere reproduce racism even as states adopt explicitly anti-racist, culturally aware and inclusive policies. One answer is that such policies function in a vacuum, floating free of the historical and institutional cultures from which they emerge.
Rather than trips to Sudan in search of cultural understanding, public funds would be better spent in educating police to understand our own culture of institutional racism; in teaching them to view Sudanese, Indian and, above all, Aboriginal-Australians not as potential criminals, or interlopers on the national landscape, but as participants and citizens.
This does not mean more "diversity" or "social inclusion" training, but a critical consciousness of the workings of old and new racism and of the structural factors that inhibit equal outcomes in our justice-detention system.
Suvendrini Perera is a cultural theorist at Curtin University. She was a member of the working party that reported to the West Australian Attorney-General on the coronial findings into the death of Mr Ward.
Political Polemics - Part 1
Political Polemics - Part 3
Political Polemics - Part 4
Political Polemics - Part 5
Mannie and Kendall Present: LESBIAN AND GAY SOLIDARITY ACTIVISMS
Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:
MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)
Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009
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This page updated 24 FEBRUARY 2015 and again on 27 OCTOBER 2016