The RSL has weighed into the debate over Resistance distributing Australian flag-burning kits on campus, claiming that it is not "decent". But Resistance says the campaign is useful because it has generated a wide-ranging discussion about the sorts of values and ideals that the flag has come to be associated with.
The flag burning was inspired by what happened to artist and Resistance member Azlan McLennan's artwork, Proudly UnAustralian, which was recently illegally confiscated by police from a gallery in Footscray, Melbourne.
As McLennan put it, "The burning flag symbolises the Australian government's shocking treatment of Indigenous people, asylum seekers and, with its new laws, workers and students. PM Howard denies that there is any underlying racism in Australia. We disagree, and the flag-burning kits are about making a statement against the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the racist incitement against Muslim and Arab people here and abroad."
"A section of the corporate media is using the flag debate to try to vilify those who use their right to free speech", Emma Clancy, a national organiser of Resistance, explained. "The right to political dissent is a basic human right, and the burning of the Australian flag symbolises that freedom.
"A majority of Australians believe that, under the Howard government, Australia has become less secure and more mean-spirited. Given the current attacks on civil liberties, under the guise of the 'war on terror', burning the Australian flag expresses our contempt for its racist and nationalist character.
"Resistance will not be silenced by the new, terrible, terror laws, which seek to criminalise dissent and place limits on free speech and solidarity actions. There is too much at stake to do nothing. In the words of the Latin American revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, 'When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty!'", Clancy concluded.
[See page 2 for Resistance's contact details or visit <http://www.resistance.org.au>.]
From Green Left Weekly, March 1, 2006.
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