In the days following the October 1 Bali bombings, Australians have been subject to a barrage of hypocritical and racist "anti-terrorist" hysteria whipped up by politicians and the corporate media. But activists have stated what many people are thinking: that these bombings, like those in Spain and London, are directly linked to the West's occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
"Just as the killing of civilians in Bali was indiscriminate and horrible, so too is the destruction being wrought by Canberra, Washington and London in those countries they invaded and occupy against the wishes of local populations and the global community", said Anna Samson from the Sydney Stop the War Coalition. "These foreign polices, which in themselves have resulted in the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands, are providing fuel for terrorists' campaigns", she added.
Lisa Macdonald from Socialist Alliance said, "Horrible as it is, the latest Bali bombing pales next to the daily terror in occupied Iraq". She went on to criticise the corporate media for "filter[ing] the truth about war and terror through the lens of racist hypocrisy".
Max Lane, chairperson of Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific, asked why it is that some Indonesians are driven to undertake such desperate, cruel, murderous, as well as self-destructive, acts? "Before 2002, Indonesia had no history of suicide attacks on unarmed civilians, so it is no use attributing these events to some eternal conflict with no underlying causes. It is a new development and must have new causes", he said.
Lane, an Indonesian specialist who teaches history and politics at Sydney University, has visited Indonesia regularly for the last 36 years and lived there for extensive periods. He said that Indonesia's successful struggle for national independence brought with it a great sense of hope for the Indonesian people. Now, he says, much of this hope is gone.
"Sixty years later little has changed. The policies of the developed capitalist nations, backed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have kept Indonesia non-industrialised, poverty stricken and technologically dependent. In 2005, most Indonesians still live on hardly more than a dollar a day, probably less. And there are no prospects, under current policies and linkages with the rich countries, of this changing.
"Indonesia, like all of the so-called developing world, has been left in a state of humiliating dependence and poverty with no hope for the future", Lane said. "That sense of humiliation is inflamed by the US and its allies inflicting suffering on the Muslim peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, so it is only to be expected that there will be anger and resistance against this situation, including in Indonesia."
According to Samson, the key to preventing such terror acts is to end the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. "Even Australia's security agencies and key strategic policy advisers agree that the Howard government's participation in the occupation of Iraq has made Australia and the rest of the world a much more dangerous place."
"Anyone in Australia who is serious about stopping the escalating war and terrorism around the world today needs to face up to the urgent need for the Australian government to withdraw its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan", said Macdonald. "This would be a powerful political blow for the world's biggest promoter of war and terrorism — the government of the United States."
Lane posed the question everyone is concerned about: how to end these attacks?
"In the end", he said, "they will only stop when the movements to end the gulf between rich and poor countries grow, both in Indonesia and in the developed countries. They must become forces that lead people to throw off the humiliation, national oppression and exploitation that the underdeveloped world now suffers."
Activists are united in their rejection of the Australia government's response to the bombings — further attacks on civil liberties. "More draconian 'anti-terror' laws to be introduced by the Howard government and all Labor premiers will not help to make Australia safer", said Samson.
"If anything, by further curtailing our civil liberties, they are likely to compromise our ability to speak out against violence perpetrated against innocents around the world. Granting unprecedented, unchecked powers to ASIO and the police and reintroducing discredited internment polices are a disingenuous and unreconstructed approach to dealing with terrorism", she said.
Macdonald also rejects the attempt by Australian state and federal governments to use the so-called "war on terror" as a pretext to destroy civil liberties and democratic rights in Australia. "The 'national security' and 'anti-terror' laws passed by state and federal governments recently have given ASIO and the police forces the power to harass, persecute, prosecute and imprison people with impunity."
According to Lane, "The October 1 Bali bombings and all such actions should be condemned as murderous, cruel and wanton. They are also ineffective in achieving any change to the lives of Third World peoples. They will continue as long as the huge gulf of power and wealth between the imperialist West and the underdeveloped, exploited Third World continues."
"Here in Australia, the movement against the US-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan must grow and force the US, Australia, Britain and other foreign armies out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The movement to 'make poverty history' must go beyond an advertising campaign by celebrities and return to the streets and demand the complete cancellation of the Third World's debt. That is what we can do to stop the continuation of terrorist attacks like those that took place in Bali", Lane concluded.
Anti-war groups including Stop the War Coalition are organising a national weekend of action on November 5-6 calling for the troops to be brought home from Iraq; defence of civil liberties and an end to the scape-goating of Muslim communities. For details of rallies see the Activist calendar on page.
From Green Left Weekly, October 12, 2005.
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