Brisbane continues campaign for civil rights


In the wake of a Federal Court judge finding that the Australian government wrongfully revoked the visa of Dr Mohamed Haneef, a community forum on "Anti-terror laws and your civil rights" was held in Brisbane on September 2.

Kevin Clements, director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, pointed to the incongruence of how little has been done for "the over 3 million killed in the Congo, when compared to the 48,000 killed by international terrorism since 1991".

Dr Mohamad Abdalla, director of the Griffith Islamic Research Unit spoke of the racial and religious targeting in the misnamed "war on terror".

Criminal defence lawyer Rob Stary noted that in his youth he gave money to Australian Aid for Ireland, an act which could now be construed as supporting a terrorist organisation. Stary also said that support for the Palestinian struggle could come under the anti-terror laws as well. He argued that case of Jack Thomas, a Melbourne man currently under a "control order", was due to the government being "hellbent on being able to point to someone as a 'home-grown' terrorist".

Amnesty International's Sasha Jesperson argued for an Australian charter of rights.

Paul Benedek, from the Stop the War Collective, argued that the "war on terror" is a lie meant to justify invasions and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while cracking down on dissent at home. "The world's number one terrorist, George Bush, should be arrested and tried for the deaths of over 600,000 people — 200 September 11s — yet instead he is getting the red carpet treatment from his co-terrorist John Howard". Benedek argued for an active movement that challenges the war policies and civil rights abuses of the Australian and other governments.