The Sydney Refugees Action Coalition released the statement below on September 7. * * * A High Court decision this morning has dismissed an application of behalf of five asylum seekers seeking to extend judicial review to discretionary ministerial decisions. In a similar application (M61) in 2010, the High Court found that asylum seekers were entitled to judicial review of appeal decisions. The High Court judgment means that there is now no legal impediment to the government moving to deport a large number of asylum seekers.
The Stop the War Coalition Sydney released the statement below on September 5. * * * The West’s “war on terror” has delivered a war of terror on the Afghan people said Christine Keavney, a spokesperson for Sydney Stop the War Coalition today. “The deaths of five Australian soldiers on August 30 and the aftermath has prompted more discussion of the war in Afghanistan and Australia’s role in it than has been heard for years”, said Keavney.
Overnight on August 30, an Afghan army sergeant shot dead three Australian soldiers at an Afghan National Army patrol base in the Oruzgan province of Afghanistan. A helicopter crash that killed two more soldiers made the day the deadliest for Australia's forces since the Vietnam War. On four separate occasions, a total of seven Australian soldiers have been killed by “rogue” members of the NATO-trained Afghan army, supposedly tasked with taking over security when NATO forces withdraw in 2014.
Another week, another round of killings in Afghanistan. Three Australian soldiers were killed on August 29 by an Afghan solider, just days after two US soldiers were also killed by a member of the Afghan army the occupiers are supposed to be helping. That takes the death toll from the so-called green-on-blue killings this year to 45.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s “expert panel” on refugee policy will hand over its findings on how to “stop the boats” and end the parliamentary “deadlock” over offshore processing when parliament begins sitting again next week. After an asylum boat tragedy that killed 90 people in June, the three-member panel, headed by former defence chief Angus Houston, was tasked to report on the “best way forward for Australia to prevent asylum seekers risking their lives” considering “Australia’s right to maintain its borders”.
US President Barack Obama announced on May 21 after the Chicago NATO leaders’ summit that the US, NATO and their allies had agreed to end their war of occupation in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. However, the announced “withdrawal” will leave US military bases in the country and some soldiers, including special forces, from the US and its allies to train, advise and assist the armies and militias of the occupiers’ Afghan puppets and warlords and carry out “targeted operations” against al-Qaeda.
The protesters in Chicago on May 20, marching against NATO, remind us that the US government is not representative of the US people. It's encouraging to see so many willing to take action and stand up against this unjust, disastrous war. Recently, US President Barack Obama travelled to Kabul to meet Afghanistan's so-called president, Hamid Karzai. Both leaders used this meeting to pretend that they are ending this war when they are really trying to prolong it.
Another week, another atrocity committed by occupying forces in Afghanistan kindly captured on camera by the perpetrators. Isn't technology fantastic? Back in the bad old days of the Vietnam War, intrepid war reporters had to risk their lives in the middle of war zones to get images of terrible crimes committed by the occupying force. Now, with these wonderful smart phones and cheap, easy to use digital cameras, the bastards can do it themselves.
Prime minister Julia Gillard’s April 17 speech on Afghanistan was widely heralded as a change of policy. It is and it isn’t. It does set out a schedule for a partial withdrawal of troops — thereby bringing Australia belatedly into line with the US drawdown of troops by 2014. But it also affirms that Australia, like the US, will not withdraw all its troops.
Malalai Joya, a brave activist from Afghanistan who opposes Western occupation and local Afghan warlords, gives an impassioned message to the Australian government and the Australian people. Among the questions she answers are: Who is Australia supporting? What is the role of Australian troops in the occupation? What should Australian people do?
“You have to put more pressure on your government to allow Afghans to decide their own future,” Afghan democracy activist and former MP Malalai Joya told a 150-strong public forum on April 11. “No nation can liberate another nation,” Joya said. “Ten years of war should have made this clear. It's better the troops leave.”
The massacre of 16 people in the Panjwai District of Kandahar province in Afghanistan on March 11 re-ignited widespread calls, inside and outside Afghanistan, for Western forces to leave. US army spin has not quelled anger or questions over how the massacre took place, who was involved and how to deal with those responsible. Witnesses say US army staff sergeant Robert Bales, along with 15-20 others, went on a rampage — sexually assaulting, then massacring and burning mainly women and children from the remote farming villages of Najeeban and Alkozai.
Malalai Joya, a former MP and one of Afghanistan’s best-known democratic leaders, recently survived the sixth attempt on her life. Taliban gunmen attacked her office at 3 am on March 10, wounding two of her guards. In an exclusive interview, she told Green Left Weekly’s Pip Hinman that “such terrorist acts will never stop my fight for freedom, democracy and justice”.
For the US military and the pro-war Western corporate media, the March 11 slaughter of 16 civilians, nine of them children, as they slept in their homes in the villages of Alkozai and Najeeban in Panjwai district, Kandahar province, was an aberration. For Afghans, it was just the latest massacre. There are differing accounts of what happened. The US maintains the killings were the work of a single “rogue” soldier. Eyewitnesses, however, insist there was more than one attacker.
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on March 13. * * * The 1968 My Lai massacre of at least 500 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam was a turning point in the US war on Vietnam. Most of the victims of the US platoon outrage were women, children (including babies) and elderly people. It was not until the following year when investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the news of this atrocity that it became one of the tipping points in finally ending the US-led war on the Vietnamese people.
The case of the soldier who went berserk in Afghanistan and killed 16 people must be utterly baffling to psychiatrists. Who can imagine what might cause someone in a stable environment such as Kandahar, with reliable role models training you to distrust the entire local population as terrorists, and no access to weapons except automatic machine guns, to flip like that? Still, they say it's always in the tranquil places that these things happen.