When former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib announced last week that he would contest the March 24 NSW state election, the corporate media in Sydney cranked up a campaign of vilification against him. Habib was held in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay for more than three years before being released in January 2005 without charge.
Habib's campaign advocates the right of freedom of expression and opposes both state and federal "anti-terror" laws. His platform also calls for an end to the scapegoating of Aborigines, Muslims and migrants. He opposes the US-led occupation of Iraq.
Habib's campaign manager is Raul Bassi, a member of the Socialist Alliance and a candidate on its upper house ticket in the state election. Bassi is a founding member of the Free Hicks and Habib campaign, and also an activist in the Auburn Human Rights Group, which is supporting Habib.
Unlike the major parties and the capitalist media, the Socialist Alliance welcomes Habib's candidacy. "I am supporting Mamdouh Habib's campaign because I see it as a contribution to building a democratic movement against war, racism and injustice", Bassi said.
The Socialist Alliance points out that the platform Habib is taking to the election includes support for civil liberties, opposition to racism, and support for public services like education, health and public transport. "We unconditionally defend Mamdouh Habib's right to stand in these elections at a time when Labor and Liberal politicians are engaging in a Muslim-bashing campaign", said the Socialist Alliance's lead NSW upper house candidate, Susan Price.
Habib is not a member of the Socialist Alliance but the party says it is proud to support the progressive measures in his election platform and will call for a vote for Habib in the seat of Auburn. "We believe it is a matter of priority to build a progressive political alternative to the ALP and we regularly support candidates who run on a social justice or pro-environment platform", said Price.
Price says that the Socialist Alliance has a proud record of supporting Habib's democratic rights — rights that have been trampled on by the NSW and federal governments. "We campaigned for his release from Guantanamo Bay, just as we campaign today to bring David Hicks home. Since Habib's release, we've continued to campaign against the recurring violations of his rights by NSW police", Price explained.
You can help the Socialist Alliance's NSW election campaign by phoning the Sydney office on (02) 9690 1977, or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>. For more information, visit the campaign website at <http://www.socialist-alliance.org/sydney/>.