anti-war

Stop wasting lives - get our troops out now!

Socialist Alliance statement June 22, 2010

The Socialist Alliance today renewed its call on the Rudd government to withdraw all Australian troops from Afghanistan in wake of more Australian troop casualties and a poll showing that a majority of Australians support such a withdrawal.

Myself and eight other people were arrested at the gates to Swan Island defence intelligence training base near Queenscliff in Victoria on June 16. We did this to protest the Australian government's continued participation in the occupation of Afghanistan.

Our day began with 40 people outside the Geelong Magistrates Court showing solidarity with the Bonhoeffer Peace Collective who were on trial for entering Swan Island in March. Despite pleading guilty to the charges of trespass on Commonwealth land, the magistrate dismissed their charges on the grounds that their cause was justifiable.

Ethnic violence against the Uzbek minority in the southern Kyrgyz cities of Jalalabad and Osh has created more than 400,000 refugees and internally displaced people. The official death toll is more than 200, but Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva told the June 16 Washington Post that the real figure may be 10 times higher.

Otunbayeva came to power in a mass uprising in April against former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who himself came to power through extra-parliamentary means in 2005. Before Bakiyev fled, his security forces killed 75 protesters.

The publication of the Saville Report, the inquiry into the British army massacre of 14 civil rights protestors in Derry in the north of Ireland in 1972, confirmed what the victims’ families had always known — that those shot had been unarmed and posed no threat to the British Parachute Regiment.

On June 15, something amazing happened: British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the British army shooting Irish people.

“It was wrong”, said Cameron, after a government inquiry found the British army was responsible for the killing of 14 unarmed civil rights demonstrators, seven of them teenagers, in the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry.

On January 30, 1972, up to 30,000 people marched in Derry, in the six Irish counties occupied by Britain, to demand an end to internment, a policy that allowed for the jailing of people without trial.

According to a recent study by the United States Geological Survey, Afghanistan has nearly one trillion dollars in mineral deposits. The study claimed to have found previously unknown reserves of lithium, gold, cobalt and other minerals.

According to the New York Times: “An internal Pentagon memo … states that Afghanistan could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium’, a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.”

On May 30, big protests were held in most Australian capital cities against recent killings in the Afghan province of Behsud. Fifteen hundred people rallied in Sydney and up to 400 in Melbourne.

Initially, the protest was to demand the Australian government stop deporting Hazara asylum seekers to Afghanistan, because the situation is not safe for the Hazara ethnic minority.

However, when news broke that some Hazara had been massacred by Afghan Pashtun nomads in the province of Behsud, the protest’s focus shifted to calling for international support for the Hazara.

Put Rudd on a boat so that he can see
what it feels like to be a refugee
trying to run from imperial slaughter,
on a leaky boat in shark-infested waters

How can these arseholes be so heartless?
— lock people up in bureaucratic darkness
They say they're Christian, but where’s the compassion?
They put Aboriginal people back on rations

It’s the Lib-Lab; hypocrisy reigns supreme,
they've got their redneck corporate Australian dream
they want to
make you think you're playing on the same team as them
as they are skimming off your share of the cream

In 2006, as Labor opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, made much of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, pastor and pacifist.

Bonhoeffer took part in the German resistance to the Nazi regime and helped German Jews escape the country.

Bonhoeffer was murdered by the Nazis in 1945.

For Rudd in 2006: “Bonhoeffer is, without doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century. He was a man of faith. He was a man of reason. He was a man of letters … He was never a nationalist, always an internationalist. And above all, he was a man of action …”

On May 31, Israeli defence force commandos boarded an aid ship in international waters. The ship was trying to break the illegal military blockade of the Gaza strip and transport much-needed food and medical supplies. Nine aid activists were killed and several snap actions were held in Australia to condemn Israel’s actions and call for an end to the blockade.

On June 1, 250 people rallied in Brisbane to condemn Israel’s attacks on the Gaza aid fleet. ALP vice-president Wendy Turner, and socialist activist and lecturer in creative industries Gary MacLennan, spoke.

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