Saturday, 7 April 2007

You're better off being a Drug Importer into Australia rather then being Muslim Australian in trouble overseas

Dear Friends,
What the Australian Government did or more appropriately DID NOT DO for David Hicks shows just how racist the Liberal Government is. Let me qualify that for you. Now much has been written about David Hicks and his predicament. I am not addressing the issue of whether he is guilty or not, that WOULD have been up to a properly constituted Court to determine in accordance with the principles of natural justice, the rules of evidence and the rule of law BUT DAVID NEVER GOT ANY OF THAT.
The Howard Government sat on their hands for five years and then finally just several months before an Australian election the US come to the party charge David and an outrageous Plea Bargain is made. That is he can not talk to the media etc etc, where is the freedom of speech there? Where have all the fundamental tenets of a Liberal Democracy gone ?
Now lets examine the Governments actions in relation to Heroin importers into Australia, they go out of their way to provide legal assistance and communications between Senior Political advisers etc etc. Have a think about some of the people that have appeared in the Australian news in recent years charged in various countries for Heroin importation or drug offences and what the Australian Government has done for those people.
The only conclusion I can come to is that if you are going to get into trouble in another Country you are better off getting into trouble for drug offences than being a Muslim wanting to fight in a war. It was David Hick's belief that got him into trouble but it was the US and Australia that broke every fundamental human right Hicks was entitled to expect, as espoused to by the US and Australia. Another example of hypocrisy and Orwell's quote from animal farm, "Every one's equal just some are more equal than others."
Have a read of the below article and see that even the British Government did more for Hicks than the Australian.
Barry Everingham writes to the monarch and is surprised by the response.
7 April 2007, SMH.

It was almost Christmas last year and something had to done about David Hicks. John Howard was feigning concern; the polls weren't coming up roses. But a "Dear John" letter would have got a public service reply so there was only one more option: the viceroy of Australia, Michael Jeffery. Second thoughts - Howard has sidelined him so I had to go to the top: the head of state of Australia. The subsequent chain of events was startling, and political. The Queen of Australia is as savvy as they say she is.

Could you, Your Majesty, I asked, do something to help your Australian subject David Hicks? I outlined in the letter what Hicks had been subjected to for the past five years, I told her that John Howard, Alexander Downer and Philip Ruddock were in the thrall of the most unpopular and ridiculed President of the United States of America and I reminded her that the plea in our passports from her viceroy, written on her behalf, to allow us all to pass without let or hindrance was in this case being ignored. I guess I was dobbing everyone in. But write I did and six weeks later, a thick envelope, with an embossed royal coat of arms, was dropped into my letterbox.
The contents, written by the Queen's senior correspondence officer, went as follows:
"The Queen has asked me to thank you for your letter of 12th December regarding your concern over the case of Mr David Hicks, who you understand is currently being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

"I must tell you, however, that this is not a matter in which Her Majesty would intervene. Nevertheless, I have been instructed to forward your letter to the Right Honourable Margaret Beckett, MP, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, so that she may know of your approach to The Queen on this matter."
HM sent my letter to the British Foreign Minister, not to Lord Downer of Baghdad: has someone not told Elizabeth we are no longer governed by Whitehall? I then wrote to Beckett outlining the concerns of millions of Australians about Hicks and pointed out the comfort her own utterances on the hideousness of Guantanamo Bay had given us. I also asked her if Howard, Downer or Ruddock had ever asked who she approached in Washington to demand, successfully, the return of the Brits incarcerated in the Cheney-Rumsfeld playpen for US military guards.
The reply to this letter came not from Beckett - instead it was written by Nicolas Jankowski of the Special Cases Team in the Counter Terrorism Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I'd worked in London over the years and still have what passes for good contacts in the halls of government, so I called someone I trust and outlined the chain of events. The reply I received was startling. Mate, he said, you opened a can of worms; the letter to HM had been all over Whitehall. Her Majesty had kept an eye on the process. He intimated Canberra had been in the loop as well but wouldn't elaborate. Nicolas Jankowski wasn't so shy.
He wouldn't comment on Hicks's case because, as he reminded me, there was an appeal before the courts on the lad's citizenship application. He then proceeded to drop a huge bucket on the entire Guantanamo Bay process, describing it as unacceptable and reminding me that Tony Blair had already said it should be closed.

He said the British Government continued to raise humanitarian concerns about detentions at Guantanamo Bay with the US authorities and would continue raising the concerns and work with the US to resolve the issues. Jankowski further pointed to the necessity of continued engagement by the US with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations and others on the issue of Guantanamo Bay. He said the British Government "noted" the assurances given by the US Government on the issue of detainee treatment more widely and quoted the confirmation of the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, that the US respected the rules of international law, including the UN's Convention on Torture.

There is no record of Howard, Downer or Ruddock being so thorough. It's as though they didn't care what happened to Hicks and may even see Guantanamo Bay in an acceptable light.
Be all that as it may. The exercise underscored to me that although the concept of this country having an absent foreign monarch as head of state is repugnant, the Queen's reputation for having concern for the less fortunate is intact. She is a role model for the Australians who will surely succeed her.

And a footnote: Queen Elizabeth's letter was written and posted on Australia Day.
Barry Everingham is a Melbourne writer and broadcaster.