Write on: Letters to the editor

Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - 11:00

Iraq I

In the United States, free speech is guaranteed under the Constitution, but that hasn't prevented the US Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from banning Arab broadcasting networks in Iraq that don't push a US line.

In September, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya networks were closed temporarily because they dared to tell the Iraqi people the truth about the growing resistance. Now the US puppet government in Iraq has banned Al Arabiya permanently for broadcasting a tape, allegedly from Saddam Hussein, calling on attacks for Iraqis that collaborate with the occupation forces.

The US administration in Iraq is simply trying to silence anybody or any organisation that does not toe the US line. The growing Iraqi resistance is a product of the illegal and unprovoked invasion, not some trumped up charge of incitement.

Australian military participation in the Iraqi quagmire has brought shame on this country. Our forces participated in an unprovoked attack on another country for reasons that have since proven false. Our military was not defending Australia. They engaged in a reckless overseas incursion that was designed to enhance our standing with the US rather than promote our national interest.

Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children have paid with their lives and limbs. Thousands more will have their lives destroyed because our government thinks it has the right to occupy Iraq in order to impose a Western-style government on the people of that country. No wonder the resistance is going from strength to strength!

Adam Bonner
Meroo Meadow NSW
[Abridged.]

Iraq II

Eight months into our illegal attack on Iraq the majority of Americans, and indeed the world, now know that Bush lied. Nor are we any safer than before — quite the opposite. Who, after all, would entertain our type of imposed bayonet democracy, as we ride roughshod through the Third World? A lynch mob may well be democratic, but that doesn't make it right.

Al Qaeda does not bomb because they hate freedom. It is their response to all of our belligerent foreign policies abroad, from the 37-year-long Palestinian occupation to Iraq. Israel has more WMD than all of the Muslim/Arab countries combined. From whom do you suppose they acquired them?

Bush lied when he said we have "tolerated" dictators. "Rubbish", writes the highly acclaimed British war correspondent Robert Fisk. "We created them."

Our troops are being used as pawns in the Bush/Blair global game of "Risk". They and their mob of international gangsters are so power hungry they don't care who they kill or how many of our soldiers die, so long as they can keep the coffins under wraps.

Journalist Andrew Cockburn, reporting from Iraq, states that "the US expeditionary force is tired, terrified and trigger-happy".

While Halliburton and Bechtel cronies loot our treasury, and Iraq's, our soldiers are dying in the dust while their families suffer grief and financial ruin. To the troops about to be deployed, remember this: You do not have to board the next jet to Iraq. No one is holding a gun to your head, yet. To the troops already in Iraq: You do not have to return from your next R&R. Just say no! Support our troops. Help keep them here at home.

David Williams
Kealakekua Hawaii

Medicare

As the political debate over "Medicare Plus" continues, some untruthful people are portraying publicly funded health care as inefficient. They seldom mention that fees can deter patients from seeking beneficial care and the association between lower income (which medical expenses can cause) and worse health.

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia (May 1, 2000) suggests that public hospitals are more efficient than private ones.

Socialist Cuba has remarkably good health statistics given its limited wealth.

Medicare Plus is worth less than 0.1% of GDP over the next four years and our health system overall should be criticised for leaving too many expenses to be covered privately — to the financial detriment of the sicker and less wealthy.

Brent Howard
Rydalmere NSW
[Abridged.]

Asylum seekers

Amanda Vanstone said quite recently in the Senate: "Australia does not repatriate people if we believe there is a risk to them." Yet as of November 30, Australia has decided to send those of Afghan and Iraqi nationality currently detained in Nauru back to their place of origin without even ensuring it's safe and secure for these people to return. How can Australia claim that Afghanistan is safe when UN officials have ordered those working there to evacuate because of instability?

The Australian government locks those seeking asylum in detention centres in appalling conditions, and while suffering from torments previously, suffer more psychological damage here. Furthermore there has been growing evidence that Australia sends those who are suicidal or have a poor mental condition back to their country of origin where they face death or prosecution.

Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) reported on treatment of an asylum seeker when four ACM officers came to remove him from Sydney's Villawood detention to Perth. "XXXX became very distressed, lying on the floor shaking and not responding to vocal stimuli, but did to painful stimuli." A psychologist said: "The current mental status reveals that he is clinically depressed." When sending this man back to this country of origin, they deliberately used a South African based courier service for high-risk people, documents have revealed, despite his mental condition. (Australian Financial Review, November 5)

There have been many examples of Australia refusing asylum-seeker protection. There were many media reports on the deaths of three men — Ahad Bilal, Alvaro Moralez and Mussa Nazari — who returned to their country after Australia's rejection. They had told the DIMIA that they would be killed if they returned. When they returned they were killed, just like they said they would be.

What have these people done to bear this sentence from the government?

It is shameful the way the Australian government is treating asylum seekers and the problem is that this treatment still continues. These asylum seekers on Nauru denied their human rights are being forced into a death trap. The Australian government wants to get rid of these people and will at any cost.

Joan Cortez-Baird
Ulverstone Tas

GST Meg

Yee ha! It's little GST Meg (remember her?) galloping to the rescue again! Mounted on her "fine cotton" pony, swinging her stock-whip around and giving a cheer — for it's warranted she'll always be there, right amongst the gang, when she's needed at the end.

Tony "Mr Exit" Abbott (or is that "Mr Hatenet"?), for the umpteenth time, gets sent back to "the lab" — dragging the now badly lacerated, disembowelled, bruised and bleeding remains of our Medicare system behind him — and returns again with his "Mark II-Vision 3" model, which now sports a few more bells and whistles with bits of (so-called) "safety netting" patched on here and there and causes senator Meg "GST" Lees to gush that this shows the Howard government is "serious about health care in Australia".

What a load of insulting rubbish from Senator Lees!

Meg Lees should get real. Where it concerns universal public education and health-care in Australia, the one and only thing John Howard and his "Neander-con" government has ever been dead-serious about — right from day one — is the total dismantling of these (just like Malcolm Fraser immediately set about doing to the Whitlam government's inaugural "Medibank" system) through a long-haul program of systematic and stealthily incremented cuts, attritions, manipulations and fiddlings.

And the grand vision of people like John Howard and their "neander-con" manifesto in all this? — a "long march backwards" to experiment with a medieval, feudalistic model of society for 21st century Australia! Oh, yee ha, Meg, yee ha!

Come the next election, I hope the ballot papers in her electorate fully reflect the sheer contempt which many of us hold towards this opportunistic scab of convenience and she fades away into political oblivion for ever and ever. Amen.

PM McVean
Darwin NT [Abriged]

Sydney Peace Prize

The forces of Australian democracy won a victory when Dr Hanan Ashwari received the Sydney Peace prize from Premier Bob Carr.

The very wealthy Australian establishment, their retainers and the Liberal Party all opposed Dr Ashwari being awarded the Peace Prize. The democratic and socialist forces took the opposite point of view.

In 1934, Attorney-General RG Menzies tried to prevent Egon Kisch landing in Australia to warn us of the imminent dangers of fascism and war. To prevent Kisch from entering the country he was given a dictation test in ancient Gaelic. The Lyons conservative government also tried to prevent Gerald Griffin, an anti-fascist delegate to a peace conference, from landing. Fortunately, they failed.

The healthy forces of Australian democracy had among its prominent spokesmen the Reverend Arthur Rivett who collapsed and died on the Domain platform supporting Egon Kisch.

Dr H.V. Evatt was a High Court judge when this case was litigated. He said that ancient Gaelic could not be classified as a European language in accord with the provisions of the Immigration Act.

In some ways, history repeats itself. Reactionary forces in 1934 and 2003 tried to prevent the public from finding out what they don't want us to know. Egon Kisch was vindicated, and so has Dr Hanan Ashwari.

In GLW #560, Jim McIlroy was quoted as saying that we ignore history at our peril. He is certainly right.

I recommend two books to the readers of GLW: Australia Landfall by Egon Kisch and The Other Side of Peace by Dr Hanan Ashwari.

Bernie Rosen
Strathfield NSW

From Green Left Weekly, December 3, 2003.

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From GLW issue 564