Terrorism and the Iranian embassy

Issue 

Editorial: Terrorism and the Iranian embassy

Sections of the media have referred to the April 6 raid on the Iranian embassy as an example of terrorism, with the implication that Australian "security" organisations should be strengthened. Several points should be made about this:

  • Firstly, and above all, the incident that caused such anger in Iranian exile communities got well and truly buried in the fuss. The Iranian government staged an illegal air raid on an exile community in Iraq, provoking retaliation by outraged exiles in many countries. How many refugees died in the Iranian government's latest brutal violation of human rights?

  • Secondly, descriptions of the raid as a "chilling terrorist incident" are gross exaggeration. While it is regrettable that an embassy official was injured, the raid amounted to little more than a demonstration, albeit a rather unwise one. It probably would have remained a demonstration had a couple of police been posted at the gate and had the embassy locked its front security door, as it might have been expected to do given reports of attacks on Iranian embassies overseas. Terrorists might have been expected to take something more in the way of armaments than a wheel brace, and if the raiders had been terrorists it's unlikely the embassy staff would still be alive or the embassy still standing. Terrorists bent on mayhem and destruction might also have been expected to do a little more to conceal their identities. The raiders give every impression of being nothing more than protesters who went too far in their justifiable anger.

  • Thirdly, the whole incident shows the confusion and bungling that arises from the existence of ASIO and other "security" organisations. A clerk in the Department of Foreign Affairs monitoring international news would have been sufficient to alert the appropriate officials to the need for extra protection of the embassy, and would have eliminated any confusion between the department and the political snoopers.

  • Fourthly, the incident shows the contempt with which the Australian government treats Third World nations. The Iranian embassy appealed for extra protection well before the raid, and authorities responded by having the cops drive past a few extra times. What would have happened had the US, British or French embassies issued a similar warning and appeal for protection?

Whatever else the raid might reveal, it certainly does not justify claims about terrorist organisations operating in and from Australia, or associated calls for strengthening of the political police. Such calls are little more than a cynical appeal to the xenophobic attitudes of those nostalgic for the old days of white Australia.