My speech at Newtown-Marrickville peace group's forum about "scapegoating Muslims" - 28/9/05

First I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land.

What are we dealing with today? What are the real issues we should be alarmed about?
We are dealing today with draconian laws (as described by one of the premieres agreed on them Mr. Peter Bettie), that could transform Australia from a model of democracy into a police state, where innocent Australian could be detained for 2 weeks without charges, track devices could be used on them for no crime they committed.
In the last few years, this government detained many Muslim youth for charges of terrorism. To date, none was charged. So why there is need for new draconian laws?
We should remember that Australia, before this government, was immune from any violence in the world. Australians were not targeted during the last few decades. We should also remember that there were no information or signals lately that Australia will be a target of any violence. So why these laws.

The answer is very simple. John Howard was seeking to raise the fear in the society from the first year in power, to divert the attention of Australians from his real agenda of economical, social and environmental vandalism.

These laws (alongside the other laws introduced before under ASIO Laws and antiterrorism laws) are mounting to the level of collective punishment (which is prohibited under international law). When we where screaming our head that detaining innocent people for long time was inhumane and illegal, Howard’s government was claiming that this is necessary to protect Australian borders, Australia interests and Australian life style from people smugglers and economic migrants. What we discovered now that there were hundreds of Australians detained, deported and treated badly, in addition to thousands of genuine refugees who lost their life, suffered mental illness because of this collective punishment.
Now it is the turn for Muslim Australians to be collectively punished to enable Howard to cover up the lies for attacking Iraq, the lies for detaining Australians and genuine refugees (including women and kids), to be able to get away with his economical and social disastrous vandalism in the society of selling Telstra, cutting spending on universities and schools, cutting spending on hospitals, shortage of workforce and all his disastrous policies.

Then there is very important issue of what is terrorism? There is no national definition for terrorism. There is also no internationally agreed on definition of terrorism. For Howard’ government attacking Iraq and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people is not an act of terrorism, but a liberation act. While attacking occupying forces by Iraqi fighters is an act of terror! The lack of this definition means basically that these laws will be abused severely by this government as how to classify terrorist and non-terrorist.

Then there are elements in these laws that is very clearly flawed and subject to abuse. Under these laws people who forget their bags at the train station or at Airport will be punished and charged. Bad memory will become a crime under these laws, instead of been a sign of senility.
Also, supporting freedom fighters against super power aggression will become crime too, on the ground of supporting enemy. But who decided that Australia should have this enemy. Howard went to Iraq against the international laws and against the will of millions of Australians who demonstrated against this. And now we have Iraqi people as enemy, and if you support them you will be charged. A very interesting logic.

The whole idea behind these laws is to raise the fear in the society. This fear is already there. I am aware of tens of people who had night visits by ASIO officers, their homes searched, their kids terrorized in the name of unknown enemy called “terrorism”. These people ran away from their countries to avoid such treatment and fear. They are now comparing these practices to the practices of the dictatorship regimes they fled from.

I must mention here that I believe that killing any innocent human being is a crime and an act of terrorism. But I also believe that we have in our judicial system enough laws and jurisdiction to deal with such crimes without turning Australia into Police state or a dictatorship. An action of criticizing the government of the day for sending troops to invade another country and kill foreign citizens will become a crime and a terrorist act.
Would I be arrested now, as I am supporting the freedom fighters in Palestine, Iraq and in any other area where its people is under occupation?

Not only this. The reputation of Australia as democratic tolerant society is perished.
I encouraged my brother, who is highly qualified and experienced engineer, to migrate to Australia, as Australia now is facing of very bad shortage of workforce. He refused because he is watching the how Australia is treating its Muslim community. It is very clear that after 8 years of Howard, there is nothing left from democratic tolerant multicultural image of Australia.

The alarming issue here is the double standard the Labor party is dealing with this issue. While Kim Beazly expressed his views that such measures will not deter “terrorists”, the Labor premiers supported such measures. No one premiere asked John Howard to address the causes of violence in the world. None asked him why Australia became a target only after his extremist government came to power and urged him to look for another measures to bring back the image of Australia as multicultural tolerant democracy.

The deportation of American peace activist 2 weeks ago sent a very clear signal, that may be the Muslims are the target of these measures now, but definitely all Australians could be target at some point, when the government will need to create new enemy.
The protection border laws proved this earlier, when Australians, non-Muslims, where targeted, deported and detained.

I believe that these laws will not stop violence or terrorism, but will further the marginalisation of Muslims in their ghettos, a marginalisation that will benefit only the extremists on both sides.

The only way to stop this is for Australian like you and me to resist.
Thank you for listening.


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