Write On: Letters to the editor

September 10, 2010

Free Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

I write to express my disgust at the appalling treatment of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani by the Iranian government.

I am a longtime friend and supporter of the Iranian people and their struggle. In the time of the Shah, I wrote letters and articles, spoke at meetings and joined many protests against his repressive regime and supported the resistance. Later, I defended the Iranian Revolution against the attacks of the US, Britain, Israel and other Western powers.

During the Iraqi aggression against Iran, I spoke out and supported Iran. I have also admired and praised the principled support that Iran has given to the Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian resistance in their just struggle against Israel.

But I am very distressed about the human rights situation in Iran and the treatment of political and other prisoners, including the case of Ashtiani. I write to express my utter disgust at the appalling treatment of her.

Ashtiani has spent five years in prison and received 99 lashes for alleged adultery, after the death of her husband. This is a very severe sentence for such an offense, without Ashtiani as well being condemned to death for this transgression.

I think that this woman has suffered more than enough and that her continued imprisonment is grossly excessive, totally unjust and that the threat of execution should be ended. It is vital that the law in Iran and elsewhere be compassionate and that civil and human rights be upheld.

I ask people to write or ring the Iranian embassy and urge them to respect the human rights of Ashtiani and to please do the just and wise thing and release her. Friendly nations may offer asylum and help to swiftly conclude this matter in a constructive way.

Steven Katsineris,
Hurstbridge, Vic.


Since the election, there have been many letters to editors calling for a first-past-the-post voting system. Many of these have come from conservative voters who feel cheated by the election result.

Typical was Peter Foeken’s offering in the September 6 West Australian that falsely said “the vast majority of votes were cast for the Coalition”.

Perhaps this view was formed because the Coalition would have won a large majority of seats if the undemocratic first-past-the-post system had been used. In fact, the Coalition won only a minority (43%) of the first preference vote.

Even on a two-party preferred basis (which hasn’t yet been accurately determined), it is not true to say the Coalition won since the results are so close.

Experience from Britain and the US demonstrates that in first-past-the-post elections many voters feel compelled to vote for candidates they dislike in order to avoid the election of candidates they detest even more.

Any electoral system that compels people to vote for anyone other than their preferred candidate is not a fair and democratic system, so we should definitely not bring in an undemocratic first-past-the post system here.

Much better would be to move to a proportional representation system where minorities are fairly represented and majority government must truly be constructed from candidates elected by a majority of voters.

Alex Bainbridge

Land acquisition disgrace

I add my name to the long list of those who abhor WA Premier Colin Barnett’s heavy-handed tactics in the compulsory acquisition of land at James Price Point for a gas-producing precinct.

Mr Barnett may well be frustrated that he hasn't got what he wants after a lot of talking and persuading. He needs to be reminded that he leads a minority government.

Many West Australians do not share his view of development at all costs for the profit motive. Short-term profit — and for whom? Company shareholders?

There are other options for this site. There is already a gas hub on the Burrup Peninsula, sadly at the cost of ancient rock art being disturbed and destroyed, but unfortunately once that process is put in train it is almost impossible to reverse.

But perhaps in cultural and environmental terms, a pipeline to the existing plant at the Burrup would be a more economical model than damaging the James Price Point section of our magnificent Kimberley coastline.

Clearly the Indigenous community is divided on this issue. Has the premier not understood the basic methodology of Indigenous decision-making? It is a concept much deeper than consensus.

If there is not a spirit of unity among the people of the land, the project should not proceed.

Compulsory acquisition is another layer of dispossession all over again. And it is a disgrace.

Jo Vallentine
Mount Lawley, WA

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