Write On: letters to the editor

Saturday, November 13, 2010
Cartoon by Chris Kelly.

Let Vanunu go free

In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu exposed Israel’s secret nuclear weapons arsenal to the world after becoming disillusioned with his work as a technician at Dimona Nuclear Research Centre in Israel. He revealed Israel had hundreds of advanced nuclear warheads.

His brave actions led to him being kidnapped by Israeli agents in Italy and transported back to Israel where he was convicted of espionage and treason in a secret trial. His abduction violated Italian and international law.

For this “crime” he spent 18 years in jail, over 11 years of it in solitary confinement in a six metre square cell under constant camera observation, conditions that Amnesty International described as, “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

Vanunu was released from prison in 2004, but Israeli authorities imposed a strict military supervision order on him. He is banned from meeting journalists, supporters and foreigners, can’t use phones or the internet, go near foreign embassies, ports or airports, or move address without informing the police. Subject to continuous police surveillance, his internal movements are confined to Jerusalem and he is forbidden to leave Israel.

Amnesty International said that as Vanunu has served his full sentence, these limitations are a breach of international law. He has been rearrested and jailed several times since 2004 for breaching these regulations.

In mid 2010 Vanunu spent another three months in solitary confinement for unauthorised meetings with his Norwegian girlfriend and journalists and for travelling to Bethlehem to attend Christmas Eve mass.

Many respected people, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, linguist and writer Noam Chomsky, peace activist Mairead Maguire, Yoko Ono and the late playwright Harold Pinter have supported his just struggle for real freedom.

I urge everyone reading this and concerned about Vanunu’s plight to do whatever you can to support Vanunu. Please write letters to the newspapers to publicise his case, pass motions at union, church, student and other organisations meetings, sign petitions and raise the issue of his case at public forums.

Steven Katsineris
Hurstbridge, Victoria
[Abridged for length]

We’re not all in it together

The myth highlighted by Colin Fox in his article "Scotland: Not if people fight back, but how" (GLW #859) is a common one propagated by the capitalist class: "We're all in it together." As Fox rightly points out, the axe of "unavoidable" budget cuts does not fall equally on everyone. The working class suffers from social spending cuts and the rich go on as if nothing had changed.

In fact, the interests of the majority of people in any society are diametrically opposed to those of the few. This is why it's hard not to laugh when people accuse Hugo Chavez, Rafael Correa, or Evo Morales, of "dividing" their respective societies — as if all societies are not already divided among the haves and the have-nots, with the latter oppressed by the former.

The myth of the unified nation with unified interests is nothing more than a device to keep such social ruptures hidden. All these fiery Latin American leaders have done is to expose such (normally latent) divisions.

I hope that the people of Scotland fight back against these cuts. And I hope that they and the people of every country whose leaders call for an "age of austerity" stand up and say to their capitalist leaders: "We're not in it together. You caused this crisis, you pay for it."

Robert Cavooris
Washington, DC

No more war

If al-Qaeda "adopts tools and tactics as the West alters its defences" [Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald November 6-7] and “out of the chaos of failed states, al-Qaeda grows and learns" maybe it is time for western corporations and so-called democracies to stop leading this sinister dance and find something better to do with their wealth.

Yvonne Francis
Apollo Bay, Victoria

Murray Darling Basin

I'd like to congratulate Nick Soudakoff on his recent Murray Darling Basin article (GLW #859), something that I've not done before.

Whilst my constituency wouldn’t necessarily agree with the conclusions that you draw, I think it fair to say that the balance you brought to the argument is something that they’d all support. Congratulations — and thank you.

Andrew Gregson
Chief Executive Officer
NSW Irrigators Council

End of forest wars

We are writing to you on a matter of grave concern to us, namely the "End of Forest Wars", the outcome of which is a bitter disappointment to ourselves and others with whom we have discussed the matter. Surely a tactical advantage has been squandered here.

The woodchip business is on its knees and the proposed pulp mill is struggling to make traction. The forest pillagers would not have come to the negotiating table in the first place unless they were in trouble. They have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. When the lamb lies down with the lion there can only be one outcome.

What of the courageous efforts of activists who suffered physical and mental assault, arrest and humiliation and the threat of punitive legal action, and those of us who donated hard-earned dollars to the campaigns? It appears all was in vain.

There should have been a referendum in order to allow all members of the Wilderness Society to vote on the acceptability of the outcome of those secretive negotiations. In conscience we can no longer support the Society. We are compelled to place our few dollars where they will do the most good. It is with sadness and regret that we break an association of long standing.

John Wood and Ingeborg Fina

From GLW issue 861