Thursday, October 06, 2005

Parkin ride

If it seems we're suffering because of the bad decisions of our leaders - and all official denials can come with accompanying statistics showing the proportion of terrorist bombings pre and post Iraq War as far as I'm concerned - then it isn't the latest Bali bombings that up the ante. The terrorists are starting to win because they are pushing our society to become less free; it's a terrible miserable agenda but it seems to be having an effect.

The temptation of governments when handed more power, is to abuse it. Any good anarchist knows this, and they're right.

I do not cite the case of David Hicks in this instance as though that case flouts accepted conventions in the treatment of prisoners, Hicks is still caught up in the current holy war and thus muddies the waters. No I have a far more disturbing case really.

This is from Sydney City Hub which has an axe to grind with official corruption and the mainstream media. In the same issue is an article about Murdoch's new daily newspaper mX (hawked in this very blog) and how they've brokered a deal with the Sydney City Council to distribute their free paper on the footpath. By paying $362,000 for the privelege they've made it impossible for the Green Left Weekly (and The City Hub) to operate. So there is method in Rupert's "madness". Who'd've thought.

Anyway, after devoting column space to a sense of personal siege, Lawrence Gibbons, also found time to define the value of independent media by this report on an American visitor to our shores who was treated a bit rough:

As the Australian government enacts a raft of frightening, totalitarian laws in this, the only western nation without a bill of human rights, there is officially zero right to free speech in the zero decade. Last month the Australian Government identified the true target of its new anti-terrorist powers, when it deported American peace activist Scott Parkin, the Texan tourist who was arrested just days after protesting on national television against Halliburton at the Sydney Opera House [...] While visiting Oz the Houston resident protested against Houston-based conglomerate, whose former CEO is Vice President Dick Cheney.

Before visiting Australia, Scott Parkin explained why he is committed to protesting against Halliburton: "According to The Financial Times, Halliburton, the largest recipient of reconstruction contracts in Iraq, has received $18 billion and seen their revenues increase by 80 per cent between 2003 and 2004. They have been accused of more fraud, waste, and corruption than any other Iraq contractor - from allegations of overcharging $108 million for fuel and $24.7 million for meals, to confirmed kickbacks worth $6.3 million. Halliburton is also the only Iraq contractor currently under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice."

To protest against Halliburton's corruption, Parkin has advocated the use of "people power". This he says is a "strategy of direct action and popular education to exact social, political and economic costs on Halliburton for their operations in Iraq...Houston activists already have been using community dialogue, teach-ins, film screenings, Halliburton counter-recruitment, humor, non-violent direct action and resolve to stop the war profiteers. In 2003, the anti-war movement used many different means to stop the invasion of Iraq. In 2004, many tried to 'un-elect' the invader by supporting another pro-war candidate. The people power strategy targets key pillars of support in the occupation of Iraq and in Houston Texas, that key pillar is war profiteer Halliburton."
Apparently even rhetoric that incites non-violent protest can pose a threat to Australian national interest and security. Welcome to the zero decade where people can be arrested without charge and can be detained without judicial review. With the blessings of both sides of the political divide, people who are accused of "inciting violence against the community" can be preventatively detained. Indeed in the case of Scott Parkin, you can also be deported to Texas for inciting non-violent protest in the community. Scott Parkin is Australia's new poster boy for the zero decade: while he was given zero reasons for his arrest, detention and deportation, he was presented with a bill for $11,000 to cover the cost of violating his basic human rights. To quote a sign at a rally protesting Scott Parkin's deportation: "You've got the wrong Texan."

[editorial, City Hub October 2005]


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