Letters to the editor

March 13, 2011


It is good to witness the expressions of concern and empathy for the Libyans by so many people and governments around the world. The Libyan people need our support against the regimes brutality. People should be urging diplomatic, political and economic action by the international community. Even some limited military action to carry out humanitarian or peacekeeping roles under the UN control or other appropriate alliance, with suitable Arab or other independent leadership would be okay. But this should be restricted and temporary.

I have no problem supporting nations using their armies to bring humanitarian aid, or even limited military assistance to countries in conflict. But there’s a vast difference between UN and other peacekeeping missions to war torn countries and invasions and military occupation.

Long-term military/political intervention is often obstructive to the growth of real democracy, freedom and self-determination in these countries. One type of aid seeks to help, while the other seeks to dominate. Unfortunately, the wishes of the people are frequently overlooked by major powers when strategic interests, oil and other resources are involved. And then these powerful nations often stay around too long, interfere too much and impose their control over the fragile country.

People need to be free to determine their own destiny and let democracy from below flourish, rather than outside forces controlling and imposing a new leader from the top. That just leads to yet another unpopular foreign backed dictatorship and more oppression.

Steven Katsineris,
Hurstbridge, Vic


There are over 6,000 asylum seekers detained by the government. More than 1,000 of them are children. We are the only country in the world with mandatory detention of our Asylum Seekers. A significant number have been in detention for two years. There are ten people on Christmas Island who are nearing two years in detention. Recently I met a former Asylum Seeker who spent three and half years incarcerated in detention and who is now an Australian citizen.

I am part of the Refugees Rights Action Network (RRAN) in Perth, a volunteer group of individuals from all walks of life, from tradespeople to mental health workers and teachers, from students to parents.

We spend our time advocating for an end to mandatory detention, for humane policies by our Government that welcome, rather than torture asylum seekers. Many of the volunteer advocates visit the detention centres to support the most basic needs of asylum seekers.

We are forever stunned by the comprehensive erosion of their full suite of human rights. We are stunned by the fact that they are confined for unreasonable periods of time in these detention centres. We are stunned that these people are neglected psychosocially, psychologically and medically, and some have to wait for medical injuries or ill health to get much worse before their ailment or symptoms are flagged for medical attention.

What surprised me most is the lack of onsite interpreters to assist these people. The Commonwealth has not provided bi-lingual dictionaries to our Asylum Seekers to assist them with effective communication. We have Farsi, Arabic, Urdu, Kurdish, Hazara, Karen, Chinn, Tamil, Sinhalese speaking Asylum Seekers. Instead the largest provider of bi-lingual dictionaries to these people, whether it be to the Perth, Banksia, Leonora or Curtin detention centres is RRAN.

Why should a volunteer group that needs to spend time supporting our detainees while consciousness raising community about the plight of asylum seekers also have to fund raise and buy dictionaries, the most basic courtesy and human right, and either mail or deliver them to detainees?

Why isn't the government, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, or even the private management contracted to provide services to detention centres, SERCO, not funding and providing these dictionaries?

This is definitely un-Australian. What are their excuses for this? Ultimately, whether it takes one, two or three years of detention thereabouts at least 96% of asylum seekers will be granted refugee status. What sort of introduction to Australia is this for our future Australians?

Gerry Georgatos,
Harrisdale, WA, Abridged

Congratulations to GLW

Congratulations to all at GLW for doing what you do. For me, this is the “real” Australia, not the corporate aberration that thinks profits are more important than the atmosphere.

Every week GLW is a breath of fresh air, telling me about what I actually care about, not lifestyle twaddle.

I would like to congratulate the writer of one particular article in GLW # 871. “Something sick in the heart of Australia” says it all about the way it is visiting people in the Villawood detention centre.

There are nearly 7000 people locked up like this, about half on Christmas Island.

Incredibly, this is more than under the Howard-Ruddock regime. We know what Gillard and company think about refugees and indigenous people in Northern Territory. Their actions speak very loudly. So well done Ben Peterson on your article.

GLW with the demonstrations and actions it advertises, which I try and get to, gives me hope for the future.

What happens next depends on us much more than we know. We plugged away on East Timor for years, sharing the struggle of the occupied East Timorese. And then the situation changed, and our efforts turned out not to have been wasted at all. Sometimes you just have to keep on plugging on despite the media-led indifference of perhaps most people. Just keep up with the brilliant work GLW.

Looking forward to the day when GLW is the mainstream and they are selling the Australian on street corners!

Stephen Langford,
Sydney, NSW

Labor’s climate policy disastrous

The pro-coal, pro-gas Australian Labor government has proposed a Carbon Tax-ETS policy, which ignores agriculture and means climate change inaction by Australia, a world-leading per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) polluter.

Astonishingly, major climate activist groups have been seduced by neocon Labor political spin and are supporting this disastrous policy that promotes a pointless coal-burning to gas-burning conversion, scuppers science-demanded 100% renewable energy by 2020, institutes a counterproductive carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) and ignores agriculture which is responsible for over 50% of GHG pollution.

Labor’s policy is a travesty and a tragedy because it pretends to “tackle climate change” but actually entrenches Australia’s world leading per capita fossil fuel burning and exporting. Spin and lying have won out over dispassionate scientific advice and have committed a climate criminal Australia to the role of international pariah. The worsening climate catastrophe, due to unaddressed human-made climate change, is set to kill 10 billion people this century and devastate the biosphere.

Dr Gideon Polya
Melbourne, Victoria

North Korea

In GLW #869, Phil Orchard, in an article on the World Economic Forum, writes "If you were writing a book on human rights, asking Kim Jong Il to write a chapter might undermine its credibility."

The article is otherwise excellent, and thoroughly exposes the hypocrisy of the world's global capitalist elite (corporate politicians and CEOs and executives) meeting to discuss the crisis which they caused. However, hysterical denunciations of Kim Jong Il and North Korea generally tends to undermine the argumentation in the article. I'm sure that almost to a CEO, the WEF would agree with Phil Orchard's criticism of North Korea for "human rights" abuses. So he places himself in the very company of those he is seeking to expose.

Paraphrasing Fidel Castro, if the North Koreans had not waged a heroic struggle against US imperialist intervention in Korea, there would be millions of Koreans who now would not even be alive, let alone have "human rights". The North Koreans have managed to set up a certain type of socialist economy and politics since 1948, in the face of virtually impossible odds. Sure, there are some distortions, but given the circumstances of ongoing civil war, and the very real threat of US/South Korean/Japanese invasion at any moment, it is unrealistic to demand a perfect socialist state.

This is not to say that North Korea should be immune from criticism. However, they are a part of the struggle against world (and specifically US) imperialism, and should be treated as such, rather than lining up with the world's CEOs and corporate politicians against them.

Adam Baker,
Nundah, QLD


The silent massacre The massacre of five members of the Fogel family on Saturday morning sent shock waves through Jewish communities around the world. Three small children aged eleven; four and just three months old were savagely murdered in their beds. The parents, Udi and Ruth were also murdered. Why was the Fogel family so brutally murdered? Because the Fogel family was Jewish and living in Samaria; an area which has been inhabited by Jews for three thousand years. According to many of the powerful news editors, politicians and academics of the world, a Jew living in Samaria is a committing a crime. This has been designated ‘Palestinian Land’ which, in the upside down world of Middle East politics, means that a Jew who refuses to be ethnically cleansed from the area is labeled a criminal. Details of the grisly massacre have been revealed. The murderers stabbed the mother after she saw her husband and baby with their throats slit. The other two children clenched their little fists as they were brutally stabbed to death in their beds. They clenched their fists, what else could they do against these men armed with knives? The murderers missed one of the bedrooms so the two year old and the six year old were spared death; instead, they found their parents and siblings, lying bloodied and dead. The twelve year old daughter who had been out with friends came home to find her two year old brother screaming over his parents bodies. Immediately after news of this horrific attack, there was a street party in Gaza, complete with sweets and celebratory dancing. Celebrating the murder of Jewish children is not a new phenomenon in Arab society. The child murderer Samir Kuntar was given a hero’s welcome in Lebanon after his release from an Israeli jail. Kuntar had kidnapped a Jewish girl and her father from their home and shot the father in front of the four year old girl before smashing her head against a rock. This man received a ticker tape parade when he returned to Lebanon. Israel had released Kuntar and other terrorists in exchange for the dead bodies of two kidnapped Israeli soldiers. For decades the Palestinian leadership has fed a constant diet of hate to the Arab population. They lie about Israel and its actions, celebrate the Holocaust and indoctrinate their children to believe that the Jews are sub human. They create blood libels against the Jewish people and reward terrorists who kill Jews by giving money to their families and naming schools, parks and organisations after them. Indeed, the murderer of the Fogel family can expect a school or park to be named after him too. That is Palestinian Authority policy. Hillary Clinton, upon becoming the US Secretary of State made it a priority to demand that the Palestinian Authority cease vilifying Jews. She insisted that they remove all references to Jews as Apes and Pigs from their school books and television programmes. Her demands went unheeded. A report from Palestinian Media Watch states, "The PA's policy of naming schools, summer camps, sporting events, streets and ceremonies after terrorists fundamentally undermines the chance for peace." Well, isn’t that the understatement of the decade? Undermines the chances for peace? Incites terror is the correct analysis. As Binyamin Netanyahu correctly stated in an under reported media release, "A society that allows wild incitement like this, leads to the murder of children," The wild, irrational and violent hatred of Jews is terrifying. Also terrifying is the silence emanating from the western media on this and other manifestations of Arab anti-Semitism. There is only one narrative to which many western liberals will adhere: Israeli aggressors versus Arabs as peaceful victims. The mantras of ‘Israeli occupation’ and ‘Israeli aggression’ are prime examples of a lie which, when repeated often enough, becomes the truth. Perhaps this is why the wild celebrations of murder went unreported. How could a media which perpetuates the lie that the people of Gaza are starving then report the handing out of sweets? How could a media which perpetuates the lie that the Palestinians are peaceful victims then report the jubilation with which they greeted the news of this tragedy. The insistence of a one sided narrative has created a situation where those who incite violence and hatred are encouraged to continue their incitement. Far from being condemned for encouraging and celebrating child murder, the Palestinian leadership pursue their current policies with the help of news outlets like the Guardian and the BBC who, in this case, found a way to blame the ‘settlers’ (read Jewish families) for their fate. Other outlets, like the ABC refused to report these grisly murders at all. The silence is deafening. Media and politicians from Western countries who continue to refer to the ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria as the ‘major obstacle’ to peace are ignoring the truth about the real reasons for the Israeli-Arab conflict. This does not help either side in the conflict. Western analysts who ignore the hatred emanating from the Arab leadership in the Middle East are aiding terror. Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly stated that the new Palestinian State will not have one Israeli (Jew) in it and that he refuses to accept any international forces which include even one Jew. There has been a continuous Jewish presence in the area for three thousand years. What Mahmoud Abbas proposes is ethnic cleansing. His compatriots in Gaza promote genocide. The Hamas charter clearly states the following: 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.' (Article 7) The refusal to acknowledge the truth about the extreme hatred of Jews permeating Arab society gives a green light to terror and child murder. As Edmund Burke famously proclaimed, ‘Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.