Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Australia Tibet Council's Federal Election Initiative

You can help build support for the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way policy. It’s time to ask your local candidates in the Federal election where they stand on the Tibet issue.

Please write to the candidates in your electorate and ask them for their support on the issue of Tibet. It’s not difficult. Read on and we will help you find a list of candidates, give you some points for the letters or, if you prefer, you can use the letter we provide.

The coming year, in the run up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is shaping up to be very significant in the struggle for human rights and cultural and religious freedom in Tibet. With your help, ATC will be working hard to increase support for Tibet in Australia.

Go to ATC's website for more information on how you can help.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Just Australia enters Election 2007 to highlight the horrors of the Pacific Solution

"Australia’s policy on asylum seekers and refugees needs fixing, urgently. While there have been small steps forward in some areas, there have been great leaps backwards in others.

Government policies still allow for the indefinite detention of children in offshore centres with little to no access to legal help.
We still grant genuine refugees only temporary protection visas, keeping them separated from their families.
We still lock-up asylum seekers with no security assessment of whether that is necessary.
We still have a visa decision system that is biased with limited review or oversight."

Watch AJA's short video on the latest issues.

Election 2007 - Keating torches Costello and his IR fear and smear

Costello & Howard, and the multiple dwarves, have been out and about traducing trade unionism with growing stridency and just a note of hysteria.

We always knew the Coalition would fight a dirty campaign, because the Aussie electorate seems to be waking up to the fact that nation builders they ain't.

Paul Keating came out of hibernation again today to launch Greg Combet's campaign and to excoriate Heckle & Jeckle for doing little more than ride on the back of the economic construct and labour accords of the Hawke/Keating years. He painted a picture of an indolent Costello in his hammock, casting an eye on the budget figures from time to time. This was vintage Keating and well worth the price of admission.

Perhaps it is not hard work that causes Costello to routinely look as though he is about to drop off in QT and to look like he has been burning the candle at both ends. Perhaps it's what he imbibes whilst in the hammock that is the real problem, and maybe that would explain his bizarre behaviour at the 'Great' debate....hmmm!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The 'Great' debate - free speech and public accountability curtailed by Howard

All the commentators are out, dissecting the relative merits of the Rudd V Howard debate. Rudd was all over Howard like a rash on just about every criterion. Those who have called it 'close' must still be either in thrall to Howard or beholden to the Coalition for something, or have spent so long toadying up to right-wing power brokers over the last decade, they just can't seem to break the habit.

The real concern is the extraordinary compliance of the ABC and the National Press Club in accepting the 'rules of engagement' laid down by the Coalition, and, then, cutting the feed to Ch 9 when they refused to bow to 'wormacide'. Freedom of the press has been under threat on Howard's watch for a raft of reasons. This is just the latest offering from this hubris soaked bunch of bullies who don't like scrutiny and who play the man whenever they come under fire.

This country so needs to be rid of them it has become one of those 'rubicon' moments. We cannot afford to continue to allow our country to be hijacked by ideological extremists, taking Australia in a direction counter to our national interest.

Hey journos, you might find it redemptive to stop dilly dallying at the edges and start focussing on the actual consqeuences of the Howard experiment for press freedoms, the rule of law and human rights. The constant focus on macro economic nuances (none of which are much altered by either party in government) at the expense of fundamental concerns for civil freedoms, social equity and community cohesion does little credit to the fourth estate.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Howard catastrophe exposes failing democracy"

I've been reading some dreadful rubbish lately on the supposed 'issues' of the 2007 election. Many of the so-called 'commentators' seem to have hibernated their brains and their ethics during the Howard years. Certainly a good many have been in thrall to Howard's culture wars and ruthless exploitation of fear.

You'd have to say the ABC has also been cowed into submission. The investigative side of ABC current affairs has been loathe to forensically analyse the worst aspects of the Howard experiment, presumably under pressure from his 'thought police'.

Following is an excerpt from Mike Clancy's article posted on Margot Kingston's webdiary. Howard has'nt fooled all of the people all of the time:

"The re-election of John Howard in 2004 with a majority in both houses of parliament is surely one of the low points in Australian political life. However, the episode is highly instructive regarding the state of our democracy. But firstly, a quick review of the evidence, then and now.

By 2004, we already had compelling evidence of Howard’s duplicity. So when we handed control of both houses of parliament to this known scoundrel, it exposed the failings of our media, our two-party system and our civil society itself.

By election time 2004, we had seen Howard’s attack on Aboriginal land rights and reconciliation for political gain. Rank opportunism was also at work with Tampa, children overboard and the disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers more generally. We had seen him sneer at environmental concerns, and fail to take action on our impending water crisis and the extinction of Australian flora and fauna. Instead, he used environment funding to buy votes.

Howard’s refusal to sign Kyoto and to increase our renewable energy targets should have alerted us. We might have noticed his grand scheme to scuttle international consensus on climate change...

By re-electing Howard in 2004, we said; ‘Go and do your worst, in our name’. We approved his misguided attack on Iraq and signed up to his subversion of Kyoto.

Many argue that the failure in 2004 was not of John Howard, but of Mark Latham. But they put this argument, without taking the next logical step of questioning our two-party system itself. If neither candidate measured up, why did we give one of them the dictatorial powers of a two-house majority? Our two-party mind-set failed us utterly. In 2004, the excellent track record of the Democrats in the Senate was ignored. The Greens and independents also polled poorly.

But ultimately, 2004 was a failure of Australian civil society itself. Why did WE allow it to happen?

Now in 2007, the evidence is in; no longer a mere ‘scoundrel’ Howard has been shown to be a traitor who has betrayed his people time and again."

Read the full article.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The polls narrow as Howard opens the pork barrel and spreads fear

I suppose I should'nt be surprised by the slight turn around in Howard's polling numbers, but it is disappointing.

This Prime Minister has lied, dissembled, dog-whistled, propagandised, and, essentially, put this country in harm's way. Social divides have gaped open. Reconciliation has been marginalised. Public assets have been sold or gutted for private advantage. Rampant individualism has ravaged social unity. International covenants have been ignored or traduced. Militaristic unilateralism has become acceptable. The list goes on and on.

Yet, a grab bag of mindless tax cuts sees the Coalition's electoral fortunes improve. I keep reading earnest commentary that spruiks Labor's failings and shortcomings, and what Rudd has to do to win office.

Disengaged, disinterested and disempowered, the next generation wonder what the fuss is all about. That is a savage indictment of our political culture.

The role modeling of our leadership has been characterised by dirty tricks, slavish toadying to US foreign policy, neglect of public infrastructure and the skills base, economic & social elitism and attacks on weaker social elements.

And its Rudd who has to make the running!!! This PM should be cast out on the basis of his appalling record on human rights and social cohesion alone. If Howard is returned to office then we really do deserve the politicians we get.

For a a bit of a laugh about the man we have elected FOUR times, click here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Australians All - Malcolm Fraser on how Howard sacrifices people for politics

Malcolm Fraser has been one of the most outspoken conservative critics of the Howard years. Howard's picket fence conformism on migration and integration and his cherry picking approach to the application of human rights principles and the rule of law have diminished us all.

Read the article to understand Malcolm Fraser's take on how Howard sacrifices people for political gain.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

As the Olympics get closer China repression worsening

This article on the deteriorating human rights situation in China caught my eye. The case for a boycott of the Olympics is growing by the day. With China's failure to curtail the worst excesses of the Burmese military regime and its ongoing violations in Tibet and against political dissidents, Beijing's much trumpeted 'arrival' as a good international citizen is a shadow play with sinister consequences for those subjected to systematic repression.

The international community needs to come to the realisation urgently that the Olympics provide leverage to ensure human rights and political reform are not just paid lip-service by China.

As the article says, "Next summer’s Olympics will showcase a China of glittering skyscrapers and overstuffed store shelves. But the government responsible for this economic miracle continues to imprison political activists, restrict religious freedom, tightly control the media and Internet, and protect its citizens only haphazardly from pollution and unsafe food and consumer products..."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Howard's reconciliation pitch - come to me, come to me....I'm your leader!

First the boot is put into refugees, muslims, aboriginal men in the NT, and any other soft targets of a good dog whistle. Now we have the hand wringing mode, a tortuous inner bleaching of the dark soul and an admission that he may have been part of the problem.

Well Mr PM, let me assure you are a big part of the problem. Reconciliation has been put so far back on your watch enlightened indigenous leaders like Noel Pearson have become so desperate to see some progress for their communities, they find themselves snookered behind your simple minded logic of integration and mainstreaming.

Small 'l' Liberals across the land have been fleeing the Howard war camp as it lines up one weak, marginal group after another for being un-Australian and in need of 're-training' in market orthodoxies. The racial attacks of Andrews on Sudanese refugees, one of the most vulnerable groups to ever seek shelter here, was really scraping a well scraped barrel, and I thought 'here we go again!'.

Next thing, its all reconciliation and don't you worry about that! If I was an outer galactic observer, I would see how our leader morphs as he passes from one bunch of electors to another, desperately seeking more power, and failing that, a semblance of a social policy legacy beyond Tampa, children overboard, Nauru, Muslim baiting, aboriginal bashing, & Sudanese vilification. Good luck and g'day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Australians All - "Giving up on Reconciliation: Is Strategic Surprise Inevitable?"

Read Lt Gen John Sanderson's thoughtful article that addresses an essential issue confronting white Australia: Can we, as we must, reconcile with the first people, so we can walk together into a hopeful future?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Labor does the right thing on death penalty

I want to echo the support of others for McLelland's (ALP spokesperson on Foreign Affairs) call for Australia to apply a uniform standard on opposition to the death penalty. We look arrogant and hypocritical when we applaud the death sentence for the Bali bombers while decrying death sentences passed on Australians abroad.

Tim Dunlop's piece on News.com is worth a read.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Howard and Hanson combine to play the race card, again!

Those that have tracked the dog whistle politics of the incumbent through his long, long political career, will know that he routinely stirs the racist underbelly of the body politic when he is under pressure.

Who better to start the ball rolling than that bastion of fairness, Kevin Andrews. Perhaps he did'nt expect Pauline to hop on board quite so soon and enthusiastically, but the target demographic can't help but respond.

Howard knows his market when it comes to the race whistle. It has worked miracles for him in the past.

The lurking guilt complexes in the Australian psyche over treatment of Aboriginal people manifest in strange ways. Many of our fellow citizens and their forbears have built their fortunes on the backs of generations of blackfella misery and misfortune. They seem to have developed a racial psychosis to protect their sensitive souls from having to front up to what they and their forbears have done to folk of darker complexion.

It is an interesting aspect of this phenomenon that quite a few of the most rabid proponents of 'white Australia' have a mixed race dynamic in the family cupboard.

I had someone come up to me at a family function in the bush not so long ago to ask me about the Sudanese refugees going to Tamworth. She had a look of troubled distaste as she sought clarification: "they're the dark ones are'nt they?", "yes, I replied, they're dark skinned and they have been subjected to the worst type of horrors imaginable. They need our help!".

And this is my message to those drawn to the dog whistle.

It is about time this country faced up to the dispossesion and cultural genocide perpetrated by our forbears on indigenous people.

Our dark night of the soul and our manifest fear of 'dark ones' will only be mitigated by a reconciliation that sets this country on a course to undo the damage of the past.

Part of this construct should see Australia become a welcoming safe haven for all people fleeing oppression on racial, ethnicity and religious grounds.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Australia Tibet Council - Please support the Burma initiative

Doubtless readers have been following recent events in Burma. The courage of the Burmese protestors and the broad international condemnation of the junta has brought some hope of meaningful change and provided inspiration to human rights campaigners the world over.

However, the Burmese people are now facing violent reprisals and with reports of more than a thousand people missing they need our support.

In solidarity with the Burmese people and in sharing the goal of exposing China's sponsorship of repression abroad and ongoing human rights abuses at home, please support the Avaaz.org global petition.

There are broader implications of the Burmese protests, including implications for Tibet.

One authority has the ability to constructively influence the future of both Burma and Tibet - China. Could the recent highlighting of China's support for the Burmese junta spark renewed international condemnation of its human rights' abuses at home and pave the way for a brighter future in Tibet? We certainly hope so.

Please join with ATC in supporting the Avaaz.org global petition.

Human rights in Australia: Racial Darwinism raises ugly head again in Howard Govt refugee lottery

Below is a open letter to Minister Andrews penned by a refugee advocate. Andrews is revealing himself to be a real piece of work on refugee selectivity doctrine. Echoes of regimes in other places peal across the air waves every time he opens his mouth:

"I read with shame that no more African refugees will be allowed to settle in Australia in the near future. It is appalling that your government has judged them for having difficulty integrating, when you have yourself acknowledged what difficult circumstances they come from. Surely this means that they need MORE help not less???

It seems that your government is reaching new lows in terms of compassion and justice. Five West Papuans were also last week secretly and forcibly returned to exactly the same dangerous situation that caused them to flee. Australia has also refused to take resettlement responsibility for 72 Sri Lankans detained on Nauru who have been proven to be refugees.

The Prime Minister has been saying that the Burmese Junta is “a thoroughly loathsome regime and the repression is appalling”. Has he forgotten the 7 Burmese refugees who have been tortured by this “loathsome” regime and who now languish on Nauru because they fled the “repression”? How loathsome is that? Compassion begins at home. Bring the Burmese refugees to Australia and give them a chance at a new life- they deserve it.

While you are gearing up for an election, it appears that you are using the same old "We will decide who comes here" strategy to punish refugees as a way of proving the Government can protect our borders from vulnerable people who seek asylum in Australia."

I encourage anyone who thinks this egregious approach is unacceptable to write directly to Andrews and give him a piece of your mind.

Kevin Andrews:

PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Tel: (02) 6277 7860
Fax: (02) 6273 4144

Email: Kevin.Andrews.MP@aph.gov.au

Monday, October 01, 2007

Australia deports five Papuan asylum seekers

In another bastardly act the Howard Govt has put the lives of 5 Papuans at risk. The SMH reported, "Australia broke international law and endangered the lives of five Papuan asylum seekers by secretly sending the men back to Papua New Guinea, refugee advocates say.

In a move critics allege was designed to appease Indonesia, the federal government admitted deporting the five Papuans, who sailed from PNG to reach Saibai Island, in Australia's Torres Strait territory, on August 21.

The men were unable to claim asylum in Australia because the Howard government has excised Saibai Island from the country's migration zone."

A refugee and immigration lawyer David Manne says the Australian immigration’s handling of the case is of concern.

“There’s a very serious question about whether there has been a circumvention of the very requirement to properly assess the protection needs of an asylum seeker in Australian territory, and as part of that to determine whether they are a refugee and if they are, to ensure that they’re not sent back to a situation which is unsafe.”

Toadying up to Indonesia has become a abiding hallmark of this Govt. The furore over the previous group of asylum seekers has ensured new arrivals will be treated very differently. Sanctuary seekers can expect to be put in harm's way to appease Jakarta's sensitivities. Watch the Govt jocks come out of the woodwork to deny any conspiracy or appeasement strategy.

Yeah, yeah, and as usual only refugee sympathizers and the odd brave journalist will have their heart rate raised. Poor fella my country.

RightsBase, a fellow traveler in the blog-o-sphere, reports, "Last week retired academic Peter McGregor was arrested in the Australian parliament for attempting to arrest Prime Minister John Howard, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, accusing the four of war crimes...Mr McGregor issued the following warrant for a citizen’s arrest, before he himself was arrested for ‘unlawful entry on inclosed lands’ [sic]:

Warrant for the Citizen’s Arrest of John Howard, Alexander Downer, Philip Ruddock & Brendan Nelson:

John Howard, Prime Minister; Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Philip Ruddock, Attorney-General; & Brendan Nelson, Minister for Defence are hereby charged, to be tried by the International Criminal Court, with:

1. Planning, preparing, initiating or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances - VI(i) Nuremberg Principles

2. Participating in a common plan or conspiracy for accomplishment of the above - V(ii) Nuremberg Principles

3. Participating in the use of cluster bombs in contravention of the Australian Mines Convention Act 1998

4. Participating in the use of weapons of mass destruction in breach of the Geneva Conventions, including Fuel Air Explosives which cause death by asphyxiation

5. Conspiring to pervert the course of justice by:

(i) abandoning habeas corpus both in the domestic ‘anti-terror’ laws and in international policy; and

(ii) covering up or defending the use of torture and over breaches of the Geneva Conventions, the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, & the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, against Australian – and other - citizens, at Guantánamo Bay

6. Failing in its duty to protect Australian citizens overseas, and conspiring to continue the illegal detention of Australian citizens without trial or charge for over 5 years

7. Demonising and incarcerating asylum seekers under the policies of mandatory detention and fortress Australia. Such policies contravene the legal principle of habeas corpus and have induced undue suffering and mental illness for detainees.

Dated this Wednesday 19th September 2007.

Signature(s): Peter McGregor (mcgregorpeter [at] yahoo.com.au)

Issued & authorized by Citizens against War Crimes."

Dreaming, dreaming.....