Letters to the editor

June 17, 2011
Cartoon: Elizabeth Vaughan

Gaddafi has record of slaughter

Tony Iltis [GLW #882] perceptively takes apart the double-dealing of the major Western powers as they have responded to the Arab revolts. But he is on shakier ground when he argues in relation to Libya that “there is no evidence that the (NATO) intervention saved thousands of lives”.

As reported by Reuters on March 17, Muammar Gaddafi in a radio broadcast threatened the people of the rebel city of Benghazi in these terms: “We will come … house by house, room by room … We will have no mercy and no pity.”

When you prime your troops in this fashion, you aren’t planning to have them refrain from indiscriminate killings.

The Gaddafi regime has a long record of slaughtering its opponents. Human Rights Watch has reported that 1270 prisoners were killed following a 1996 riot in Abu Salim prison.

Amnesty International on March 29 stated: “Thousands of unresolved cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions have occurred during Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s rule.”

Following a six-week investigation in eastern Libya early in the civil war, Amnesty International reported “strong evidence that Colonel al-Gaddafi’s forces have deliberately killed unarmed protesters, directly attacked civilian residents fleeing the fighting, committed enforced disappearances, and tortured detainees”.

Since then, we’ve learnt of the use by the regime of Grad missiles against residential districts of Misrata, along with cluster munitions. Unconfirmed reports speak of numerous disappearances in cities still held by Gaddafi’s troops.

The NATO bombing has clearly caused civilian deaths. But it is most unlikely that these approach the total resulting from Gaddafi’s actions during the fighting, not to speak of the numbers of people who would have been killed had the regime been able to get its hands on them.

Meanwhile, the Gaddafi regime was earlier on quite cordial terms with Western governments, for which it was an eagerly courted arms customer. But that is another story.

Renfrey Clarke
Maylands, SA.

Question time a disgrace

Politics is a calling, however none of those there have yet heard the call. It breaks my heart and spirit to listen to those unbearable public spectacles, parliamentary and senate question time.

They are beyond a disgrace and indicative of our country's social ills.

These people who pretend to be competent politicians while stealing the taxpayers' hard toil, supposedly representing the best interests of their constituents and of Australia, just don't care.

It is true, they don't bloody well care and it is as obvious as the light of day and the dark of night. Question time might as well be abandoned as it examples deceit and dishonour as the way to go to the rest of society and to our children.

These so-called politicians not only waffle, abuse, and act with malice, they outright lie and heave this disgrace upon us all.

Question time is probably the most disgusting example of disengagement and arrogant personal agendas, bullying and harassment I have ever seen. How can we ask the boardrooms of our major companies and of the private sector to act with propriety when our highest “public” offices don't act with propriety?

Whatever good happens in the world, whatever propriety unfolds in the pursuit of justice, whatever decency reaches humanity it most certainly does not arrive because of our parliamentarians. They all make me sick.

When all of us are sick of them and their disgusting and outrageous disregard for the people then maybe we can get rid of them, the whole lot. Most of us would not accept their despicable and brutish behaviour from our children.

Gerry Georgatos
Bridgetown, WA

More militancy a must

From the turnout at the public sector rally [In Sydney] on June 15, despite the inclement weather and the fact that all our members were not directed to attend, one would hope that the leadership of the union movement, including the New South Wales Teachers Federation, would take inspiration and be confident that members are expecting much more defiance and resolve than has been displayed to date on this issue.

It is the responsibility of the leaders to show direction and vision and to actually lead the charge against the destructive measures that centre on eradicating the role of the union in industrial negotiations with employers.

It is not in the union movement’s own interest to stand impotent on this, merely calling for the “campaign to continue until the next election” as was the verbage from the speaker’s platform.

The action that should have occurred is an immediate 24 hour (at the bare minimum) general strike across the entire public sector which would have brought the state to its knees and the O’Farrell government would have had no other recourse than to abandon its plan.

It is reprehensible that this did not occur before the laws passed both houses.

The union movement needs to be demonstrating its relevance and usefulness to the younger generations of workers who have not experienced the victories and triumphs of the past.

In times such as these, when left-wing politics and union politics have been removed from campuses under the very effective voluntary student unionism policy of John Howard, now more than ever, the union needs to be connecting with and being an inspiration and role model for the very people who will be most adversely affected by these laws.

There is a lack of political will and vision in the top echelons, which does not reflect the passion and desire for concerted and effective action in the rank and file. We need new and militant leadership across the board, including in the NSWTF.

Noreen Navin
Campsie, NSW

O’Farrell must stop developers

We and a hundred other people recently saw the film State of Siege in which you [Liberal NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell] figured prominently when you were leader of the opposition.

We were completely shocked by what we saw, in particular the government caving in to big developers at the expense of the ordinary citizen. If the unions had not taken up the fight to save some of Sydney’s history, The Rocks would be gone, replaced by ugly, environmentally unfriendly glass and steel monoliths.

What we saw with beautiful family homes being compulsorily acquired from their owners, and then smashed by bulldozers, with no attempt to recycle beautiful French windows, left us feeling sick to the pits of our stomachs.

Where are the ethics in all this? It seems a certificate of title doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Are we living in a democracy where citizens have rights or a third world corporatocracy, where corrupt governments of both persuasions go “belly up” to developer pressure, accept large, so-called donations and allow the almighty dollar, greed and profits top ruin people’s lives and their ambience?

People’s homes are literally stolen from them, an unbelievable thing for most Australians to contemplate.

So what we want to know from O’Farrell is, now that you are in power, what are you going to do to stop this outrageous behaviour by developers, and what are you going to do to tighten up the “Green Ban” laws, which we were led to believe have been weakened and white-anted over the past 20 years to please developers.

Hodges family
Birdwood, SA


In the past month over 2000 people have been murdered, 1000s and 1000s of refuges have been created and 1000 of Syrain woman have been brutally raped my Syraian amred forces. Believe it or not this weeks Green Left weekly does not feature one article on the issue on the front page of the website. When Israel kills 7 armed men on a ship this paper dedicates the cover and at least 6 article but when 1000s of Syrians are slaughtered there is silence. I also remember when Israel entered the ships and bombed Gaza, the members of this website organized street protests in every city, but when 1000s of Syrians are raped and are homeless the is silence. Thanks a Concerned Syrian expat.
I would suggest that you read the following article, accessible from the front page, which addresses the issue of repression by Arab dictatorships: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/47958

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