Monthly Archives: September 2006

Rally for Peace in the Middle East

Atroops-out-s23-13-sep-version-2.jpgbout 100 people attended this rally to hear speakers like Les Thomas, Ian Rintoul (Solidarity), Halim Rane (Fair Go for Palestine) and the Greens candidate in Mount Cootha, Juanita Wheeler, who polled well in the recent state elections.

Les Thomas spoke in support of his brother Jack and condemned the government for using his brother as a smokescreen for its ‘war on terror’. His brother has been found innocent of all charges of terrorism.

“This has nothing to do with national security – it’s about appearing tough on the war on terror and they are quite happy to ruin my brother’s life in pursuit of their political objectives.

“I think he’s somebody the authorities have been desperate to make an example of for a long time and having failed in their attempts to present Jack as a terrorist threat in the courts they are willing to take any measure at their disposal no matter how extreme or draconian they may be.”

On the evidence presented by authorities themselves (usually full of bias against the defendant and misinformation), Jack Thomas’s trip to Pakistan was an act of naivete by a working class melbourne man interested in Islam. The move by ASIO and the Australian Federal police is clearly a move to justify their large budget and increased staffing levels since the “war on terror” was commenced.

Les Thomas was one of about 90 in an anti-war rally of people in Brisbane’s CBD marching under the slogans shown in the poster above.

Les said the demonstration, which was addressed by speakers from Solidarity, Socialist Alliance, the Greens and Fair Go for Palestine began at Post Office Square before the protesters marched to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade office in Ann Street, highlighted the Government’s threat to civil liberties in its deception, the war on terror.

“Today we made connections between the broader war on terror and how laws are being fundamentally changed in Australia so we are seeing things like control orders, closed courts and secret hearings that we would normally hear in authoritarian regimes,” Les Thomas said.

Juanita Wheeler for the Greens argued that the size of the rally should not deter people and that the media was cyncial not to report it — she said that the people at the rally should take heart that they represented the majority of people in Australia who oppose the war in Iraq.

However a greater dynamic has to be set up by the organising groups sufficient to bring larger numbers to such rallies.

The Anti-war Coordinating Committee (a coalition of Socialist and Peace groups, some of which are mentioned above) raised $435 which covered the cost of the rally.

Discussion: Will the US/Israel force a change of government in Lebanon?

This may be high on the list of priorities for the neo-liberals in Lebanon.

On Saturday, Hizballah had a rally in Beirut of hundreds of thousands of people.

The Hizballah rally (23 September 2006) looked very big on the ABC news — however the 2005 Hizballah rallies in Beirut looked bigger. Hassan Nasrallah gave a victory speech; Hizbalah may have been forced to move up the Bekkah valley toward Syria and at the same time Israel may have a buffer zone — one of its objectives in its war on Lebanon.

Meanwhile BushTelegraph has received news of large payments being made and received by members of the Lebanese cabinet. The neo liberals under the leadership of the son of Saad Hariri (a lebanese neo liberal assasinated last year) may well be behind these payments in an attempt to manipulate a change of government. Either the payments may also be evidence of corruption in government (or both). See article below:

Like FATHER LIKE SON
NTV news 07/07/2006:

The Minster of Industry Pierre Amine Gemayel signed contract for 80,000$ with Mr. Abou Malhab (ex – childhood friend to Pierrot who lived 20 years in Sweden and having a business administration degree) in order to make a Study.

The National Accounting committee refused to pay the contract of Mr Pierrot 120,000,000 L.L Pierrot tried to convince them by reducing the price to 100,000,000 L.L. , but the committee still refuse because of many factors:
1. The “etude” should be done by the ministry employees and not by a private side; the price contracted is not logic and very high; employees of the ministry are getting salaries for doing this job and it is unnecessary to make a private contract.
2. The Contract is incomplete and doesn’t contain any details of the “Study”.
3. The National Accounting Committee called the General Director of the ministry for a meeting but he refused to come backed by a call from Pierrot asking him for not going there.Pierrot was upset because he could not do it in a legal way. So he asked Mr. Seniora to provide the money separately from “Reserve of Treasury ” 120,000,000 L.L. to pay Mr. Abou Malhab (a Lebanese living 20 years in Sweden).

Uncle Senioura accepted and signed it during the last meeting of government, NTV showed copies of documents for the public including the contract signed between Pierrot and Mr. Abou Malhab.

This is a small sample of what is happening in Lebanon’s Saad Hariri and his 14th of February [2006] band.

Is the conflict between the US and Iran just a deception by Neo Liberals?
A palestinian refused to speak at the rally on the basis of his belief that Iran and the US are in cahoots in laying waste to Iraq and that the public squabble between them is a deception.

He says that he has documents proving that Iran is refining stolen Iraqi oil for the Americans.

He argued that the slogan: “No to war on Syria and Iran” did not convey a true picture in the middle east (or the correct emphasis) and should have been taken from the rally poster.

This speaker should be invited to speak at the next Anti-War Coordinating Committee to outline his perspective.

Ian Curr
25 September 2006

Pine Gap Four reach Ground Zero

maralinga-person-on-pine-gap.jpg“This is a true story, it may not be your story, but it is a good story nonetheless” [from the film “Ten Canoes” by Rolph de Heer].
This is a story of the Pine Gap Four who went to the American base out there in the desert with the permission of the aboriginal caretaker of that land.



Journalist Richard Ackland wrote recently in the Sydney Morning Herald under the heading Goering got it so right :

voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy.
All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.
It works the same way in any country.”

From “Goering got it so right” by Richard Ackland in the Sydney Morning Herald Date: June 9 2006.

cmap-bldg-at-pine-gap.jpgPine Gap was gazetted in 1967 as a restricted area by the then Defence Minister Allen Fairhall and the Australian people were told that it was a space research station. This official cover lasted for the next 25 years.

The Pine Gap Four
In December 2005 four pacifists sought out Pat Hayes, the traditional Arrente caretaker for the Pine Gap area and asked his permission to walk on his land (at Pine Gap). No permission had ever been sought or given for Pine Gap to be used by the Australian or US military as apine-gap-has-two-eyes.jpg military base. However Pat Hayes gave the peace activists permission to enter the area.

In an attempt to prove Goering right the attorney general Ruddock charged the Pine Gap Four who had walked into Pine Gap under the DEFENCE (SPECIAL UNDERTAKINGS) ACT 1952. The charges were:

Unlawful entry – section 9(1) A person is guilty of an offence if: (a) the person is in, enters or flies over an area; and (b) the area is a prohibited area. Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 7 years[2].pine-gap.jpg

Use of cameras etc
.- section 17(1) A person is guilty of an offence if: (a) the person is in or is passing over a prohibited area; and (b) the person has in his or her possession, carries or uses a camera or other photographic apparatus or material.
Maximum penalty:
Imprisonment for 2 years.

Jim Dowling, Donna Mulhearn, Adele Goldie, and Bryan Law appeared in an Alice Springs court in April 2006 and were committed for trial in the Northern Territory Supreme Court on these charges and others relating to damage of the Pine Gap fences. This was despite the failure of the prosecution to make out the basis for the criminal damage. The damages bill has been falsified by a contractor at the base, Raytheon (international arms manufacturers and dealers in Tomahawk missiles)
why-is-beazley-inside-pine-gap.jpg

The DSU charges relate to December 9th 2005 when the Pine Gap 4 walked for about three hours into Pine Gap; two of the four, Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie climbed through so called “inner and outer man proof fences” and scaled the building shown in the photographic model. This building is myteriously referred to in court as the CMAP building. Adele and Jim paraded an anti-war banner. For this peaceful act, Jim was assaulted by the guards on the roof of the CMAP building.

pg-picture-from-high.jpgAustralian Attorney General (Ruddock) and then Defence Minister (Hill) have approved and instructed the Northern Territory prosecutor to proceed against the “Pine Gap Four[3]” under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 [the Act]. See article about the court case called “Words of Mass Deception by Maniacs of Spin

The Maralinga Connection

Restrictions on entry to secret bases are referred to in the 1987 Australian film called “Ground Zero”.

This is a film based on the Maralinga Atom Bomb tests conducted by the British Government in 1950s. Ground Zero details a governmental cover-up as seen through the eyes of commercial photographer played by Colin Friels. Tipped off to the possibility that the death of his father was tied in with radioactive contamination, Friels runs into several official brick walls as he presses his investigation. At the root of everything is a hush-hush nuclear radiation test, conducted in Australia in the mid-1950s.

In the film there is a scene where the character played by Friels was denied access to the Maralinga test site by an American soldier under legislation similar to that used against the PG4.
With the help of a slightly-addled survivor (Donald Pleasence) of those tests, Friels uncovers the truth.
The film credits disclose the names of those people who died as a result of the radiation from the nuclear tests at Maralinga. The film acknowledges the Aborigines who died as a result of the bomb tests.

Why the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952?
The legislation was designed to prevent people who may have obtained access to the secrets of places like Monte Bello, Maralinga and Emu Plains from disclosing information about the nuclear test that were being carried out there. The legislation was to prevent defence staff, locals, aborigines and saboteurs from getting unauthorized access and to prevent them from revealing anything about nuclear tests.
maralinga-deaths.jpg The following report[1] provides evidence for this:

“Occasionally, when Aborigines were sighted in restricted areas, reports of these sightings were disbelieved, or less than subtly discouraged. One officer who reported sighting Aborigines in the prohibited zone was asked if he realised ‘what sort of damage [he] would be doing by finding Aboriginals where Aboriginals could not be’ (Australia 1985, p. 319).

After the Milpuddie family (traditional owners of the land) was found in the restricted area at Maralinga, the Range Commander invoked the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 (Cwlth) to prevent disclosure of the incident by any personnel on the scene.

This Act of parliament was enacted specifically to prevent people entering and/or flying over the Maralinga site where the Atom Bomb tests were conducted.

The effects of these British tests were later the subject of a Royal Commission conducted by Justice James (Diamond Jim) McClelland in the 1980s. McClelland said in his opening address for hearings in London for the Royal Commission:

“Secrecy about nuclear weapons is a ‘convenient alibi’ for failure of disclosure”

Submission No. 2743 to the Review of Veterans’ Entitlements from a Nurse Researcher for the Australian Ex-Services Atomic Survivors Association supports the view expressed by McClelland.

Also, what the researcher had to say in that submission is relevant to how such legislation as the DSU is used against the PG4. It reads:

“The British Nuclear Tests (experiments) were conducted under war conditions; a new act of parliament was drafted to cover the areas to be tested. The Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 gazetted prohibited areas, indicated penalties for unlawful entry, outlined powers to arrest, jail sentences, increased penalties for failure to obey an order and sabotage.

The participants in the tests were also made to sign the “Secrets Act“, a document of non-disclosure lasting for over 30 years. These were not the standards applied in normal service times, they were those applied in war time. The service men were told not even to tell their wives.

The British Nuclear Test were a series of operations run over almost a decade. They were codenamed operations (Totem was one code name used). ‘Operation service, for the most part, comprises service outside Australia in wartime or during declared warlike operation’ the book Veterans’ Entitlement Law (states that) operational service can be “service elsewhere in Australia where the veteran actually incurred danger from enemy action”. This was clearly a threat throughout the “Cold War” and the Defence Special Undertakings Act 1952 also anticipated sabotage. Indeed there was incidence of sabotage during the tests.”

Pine Gap
Maralinga was closed in 1967 to be cleaned of radioactive materials (Operation Brumby). Needless to say this operation was unsuccessful. It may take 25,000 years for the radioactivity to disappear. During the same year (1967), Pine Gap was gazetted as a restricted area under the DSU Act 1952.
The Australian government is repeating history by charging the PG4 under the legislation used to make secret the effects of the Atomic Bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s by Australian, British, and American military. It was Prime Minister Robert Menzies who said in 1953:

“No conceivable injury to life, limb or property could emerge from the (atom bomb) test that has been made at Woomera”

In 2003, 50 years after this statement by Prime Minister Menzies, the Australian Government conducted a review into veterans’ entitlements arising from the British Atomic Tests at Maralinga.ndvd_035.jpg

Its recommendations were:

Participation by Australian defence force personnel in the British atomic tests should be declared non-warlike hazardous and the legislation should be amended to ensure that this declaration can have effect in extending VEA coverage.

The Government should move quickly to finalise the cancer and mortality study.

The activities at Pine Gap as defined in the DSU Act 1952 as “a work or undertaking which is being carried out, or is to be carried out, whether within or without Australia, for or in relation to the defence of Australia, … and in part for or in relation to the defence of some other part of the Queen’s dominions or of some other country associated with Australia in resisting or preparing to resist international aggression…”

Will it take another 50 years before a Royal Commission reveals that Australia, the United States and the British and the corporate oil interests that they serve are aggressors and occupiers in places like Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan?ndvd_049.jpg

Was Goering so right as claimed by Richard Ackland when he said: “All you (government leaders) have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger”?

Will an Australian jury prove him wrong and see through the lies of the Australian government?

Ian Curr

[1] Australian studies in law, crime and justice“A toxic legacy : British nuclear weapons testing in Australia.”

Published in: Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 ISBN 0 642 14605 5 (Australian studies in law, crime and justice series); pp. 235-253.

Anti-War Coordinating Committee Meeting

Date: Wednesday, 13 September 2006,
Time: 6:30 pm — 8:30pm
Place: AHIMSA House, 26 Horan Street,
West End (near State School)

A resolution was passed by the Anti-War Coordinating Committee to organise a rally on 23 September 2006. An organising meeting was held at the above time and place.
Invitations were issued to others interested in coordinating activities in the peace movement or wish to receive more information about the anti-war coordinating committee.

Contact: Ray 0402 236 903 or Ian 3398 5215

middle-east-map.jpg

Map of the Middle East (click to magnify)

The need for respect, comradely behaviour and democracy in decision-making was the strong message that came out of the first anti-war coordinating committee meeting that was attended by 13 people from 11 different organisations on 16 Aug 2006.

There were some people at that meeting who had been active in the Stop the War Collective (including Mark Gillespie and Joan Shears).

For there to be joint meetings of an Anti-War Coordinating Committee and the Stop the War Collective requires a democratic vote. This has not been possible because the only meeting planned is of the anti-war coordinating committee for 13 September 2006 and may not be possible then until voting rights and procedures are worked out (see below).

So far an anti-war coordinating committee has formed with a list of people who are committed only to the extent of placing their name, contact addresses, and organisation on a list and agreeing by a unanimous vote to form a committee by that name at the first meeting on 16 August 2006.

There was a decision put by a different set of people not in attendance at the first meeting (who also placed their names on the coordinating committee list) on 30 August to organise a rally at 12 noon on the 23rd September at Queens park).

In the circumstances outlined above (particularly since the coordinating committee does not have a fixed membership) the chairperson of the coordinating committee (Ian Curr) suggested to the meeting that organising a rally was premature and was not the role for an anti-war coordinating committee which had just been formed and had not settled on a name.

Nevertheless the convenors of the anti-war coordinating committee (Ray Bergmann and Ian Curr) agreed to perform tasks relating to that proposal once it was passed by a show of 6 hands for with none against (the chairperson does not vote in these circumstances).

Tom Bramble (Socialist Alternative) agreed to contact possible speakers at the rally. Ahmed Kadhem and Ray Bergmann would seek out speakers from occupied countries in the Middle East with the proviso that refugees would not be placed at risk.

Steve Martin (International Socialist Organisation) agreed to draft a leaflet for the rally. A record of donations to the anti-war coordinating committee is kept by one of the convenors (Ray Bergmann).

The anti-war coordinating committee received a generous donation from a Quaker who left with his colleague prior to any decisions being reached about the rally.

The proposers of interstate speaker would need to raise at least $500 at the rally to make the proposal to fly a speaker from Melbourne (say) viable. That is unlikely given recent experience where $300 is about the maximum collected at rallies. Can the proposers of interstate speakers (Socialist Alternative) guarantee to make up any shortfall on the day?

Tom Bramble (SA) said “he does not agree with artists playing at the demos” but “(Michael) Franti is an exception”.(Franti being an international artist who is playing in Sydney on 22 and 23 September 2006).

Whatever happened to the notion of local artists playing at rallies? On the same day local artists are playing at the Brisbane Labour History Association’s Rekindling the Flames of Discontent that same afternoon at East Brisbane Bowls Club).

Since that meeting Mark Gillespie (STWC) has said that he had discussed with Stop the War Collective members to join with the anti-war coordinating committee meeting on Wednesday 13 Sep 06 to help organise the rally. There has also been a number of emails from Tom Bramble (Socialist Alternative) that read like minutes of that meeting (no one was delegated to take minutes).

As per normal meeting procedures (see below) items for an agenda can be submitted prior to the meeting. The anti-war committee meeting cannot function with agreed rules of democracy. One part of this is to have democratic meeting procedures. Such procedures are listed below:

MEETING PROCEDURES

1. Elect a Chairperson.
One task from the outset is that there is a quorum present, being a majority of the active members of the coordinating committee.

2. Apologies for Non Attendance
Advance apologies for non-attendance at the next meeting.

3. Minutes of Previous Meeting
a. Motion – “That the minutes be confirmed.”
b. Seconder
c. Amendments or alterations to minutes as read
d. Vote by members
Business arising from minutes. It is important that the Chairman is familiar with any matter, which
may arise.

4. Correspondence
No motion is normally required, although if it is desired to approve the sending of letters/emails then the
appropriate motion is “That the correspondence be endorsed”.

6. Reports
Unless just making an announcement about a future happening, each person should conclude their
report with a motion “That the report be received (or adopted)” as appropriate.
a. Motion – as above
b. Seconder
c. Discussion on content of report
d. Vote by members

7. General Business
While it is preferable for motions and amendments to be submitted in writing to the Chairman, this is
not essential. Motions may be accepted directly from a speaker.
Note. The following is the method of obtaining a decision on a motion:

CHAIRMAN: I will now put the motion “That…………
“All those in favour ….” Those against ….”
“I believe those for/against have it (Pause in case someone disagrees and requests a show of hands) and I declare the motion/amendment carried/lost.”

If a motion is carried people may be delegated to perform any tasks required in the spirit of the motion.

8. Collection of membership dues.
Rather than the current practice of taking a collection to pay for hire of the meeting room, the membership should consider having dues (say $25/$15 that can be collected on say a 6 monthly basis.