Protests condemn Haneef's detention

July 21, 2007

On July 20, 80 people rallied outside the Brisbane immigration department offices to protest against the detention of Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef. The rally was called by the Stop the War Collective.

Haneef had been granted bail by a Queensland magistrate after being charged with "recklessly" supporting a terrorist organisation because, before coming from Britain to Australia last year, he gave his mobile phone SIM card to a cousin who has since been arrested in connection with the driving of a burning Jeep Cherokee on June 30 at the arrivals hall of Glasgow airport.

Protest chairperson Paul Benedek described Haneef's detention as "McCarthyism" and called upon "people around the world to go to their Australian consulate and occupy those consulates and say that the Australian government cannot get away with this"/

Emad Soliman, an Egyptian-born Australian Democrats candidate, criticised the ALP for supporting Haneef detention. "Kevin Rudd is willing to compromise anyone or anything on his way to assume the top job. Even if it's one of his relatives or a professional doctor — the father of a newly born child."

Greens Senate candidate Daryl Roseen said: "The actions of the government have compromised Haneef' right to a fair trial, and marked him for life as a possible terrorist. There is no respect for the rule of law in this country."

Peter Russo, Haneef's lawyer, said that "any system that allows matters to be heard in secrecy is open to abuse … There is no accountability built into this legislation." As a result, he said, his client had been detained and interrogated for 12 days without his legal counsel being informed what the alleged evidence for Haneef's detention was.

Russo added: "Dr Haneef knows of the level of support he is getting from the general community and he was moved when I told him that he had support from all parts of the community."

Socialist Alliance candidate Jim McIlroy said: "The Howard government is threatening the rule of law in this country and the very basis of democratic rights on all fronts. It is using legislation against workers, against Aboriginal people, against refugees… What we need now is a new vision for Australia, a change based on social justice, peace and human rights.

"We must put pressure on the Labor Party to take a stand on civil liberties; to take a stand on the rights of refugees; to take a stand on the rights of Aborigines.

"This campaign will have to continue because this government is prepared to use any mechanism to get around the decisions of the courts."

Raffaele Fantasia reports from Sydney that 50 people rallied outside the immigration department's offices on July 18 to protest against Haneef's detention. The crowd was addressed by Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, Alex Bainbridge from the Sydney Stop the War Coalition, Pip Hinman from the Socialist Alliance and Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition.

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