A disturbing expos


A Wall of Secrecy
Produced and directed by Fabio Cavadini and Mandy King
To be screened nationally on SBS Television's The Cutting Edge on Tuesday, August 4, at 8.30 p.m. (8 p.m. in Adelaide)
Reviewed by Norm Dixon

Political activists are placed under 24-hour surveillance. Their every movement is photographed. Cars tail them everywhere they go. Their house is entered secretly, and listening devices are planted. Phones are bugged. Acquaintances are investigated and followed. Homes and workplaces are raided by dozens of police. Evidence is fabricated. The accused is intimidated, threatened and placed under house arrest for over two and half years. Journalists reporting these events are harassed.

A Wall of Secrecy is a disturbing account of political persecution — not in Chile or Turkey or South Africa, but in Australia, in Canberra. Should anybody believe that the "democratic" Australian state is not equipped or prepared to engage in police state gangsterism, this excellent documentary will shatter their illusions.

The film recounts the events surrounding the charging of anti-apartheid activist Kerry Browning for a series of arson attacks on cars belonging to United States and South African diplomats. Kerry's husband, Maxwell Nemadzivhanani, Australian representative of the Pan Africanist Congress, was also charged with being knowingly concerned.

What emerges is a web of intrigue involving the Australian Federal Police, ASIO, the FBI and the governments of Australia, South Africa and the United States to nobble Canberra's anti-apartheid movement by silencing two of its most prominent and effective campaigners.

The security police operation involved a massive force of agents and cost millions of dollars. The cops are seen to be prepared to go to any lengths to frame Browning. Political activists from Chile, Turkey and South Africa interviewed in the program point out the chilling similarities between activities of the secret police agencies in Australia and those in their own countries.

One of the film's two directors, Mandy King (whose earlier work includes the excellent documentary, Shadow Over East Timor), explains that "in First World countries — the free world — the rights of the political activist are often seen as illegitimate by the various agencies delegated to the role of maintaining law and order. During the last decade Australia was seen as one of the instigators of sanctions against South Africa, yet, on its own shores, a Canberra woman lived under virtual house arrest for almost three years."

A Wall of Secrecy, says King, "brings to life a story of injustice in a country where many people feel safe with the thought ights are guaranteed".

While the program highlights the devious and dangerous antics of the state, it is also a tribute to the immense strength and courage of Kerry Browning, Maxwell Nemadzivhanani and many supporters in their long struggle for justice.


IN CONVERSATION WITH BRUCE PASCOE: The Climate Emergency & Indigenous Land Practice


Zoom panel featuring Bunurong man Bruce Pascoe, award-winning Australian writer and editor, author of Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident?

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