A public forum was held on Saturday 11 September 2004, to look at the anti-terrorism laws that have been introduced Australia in the last three years since September 11, 2001. Read on for coverage of the event in Greenleft weekly.
The extensive speakers platform included Waleed Kadous from the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network, Keysar Trad from the Lebanese Muslim Association, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Blaxland, Raul Bassi, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, the Democrats’ Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, Dr Akbar Khan from the Islamic Association of Western Sydney, Afroz Ali from Muslims for Peace and Scott Poynting, author of Bin Laden in the Suburbs.
Kadous told the meeting that while he doesn’t condone terrorism, there is a problem with the definition of “terrorist”, citing the example that nurses who picket a hospital (a critical resource) could be classed as terrorists.
Bassi told the meeting that the “anti-terror” laws do nothing to combat terrorism, pointing out that it is oppression that creates terrorists. The only way to stop terror, he argued, is to “stop the causes — hunger, the misery of poverty, violence and oppression”.
Nettle pointed out that the laws “are an attack on the fundamentals of our democracy — the right to choose a lawyer, the right to silence and the right of association”.
Trad said that he couldn’t understand why there isn’t “an uproar”, calling the legislation “draconian”. At this federal election, he said, “it’s time to give Howard a message”. Bassi called on the people of Australia to follow Spain’s example and unite in the streets to throw out the Coalition government and bring the Australian troops home from Iraq.
Kate Stockdale, Sydney
Green Left Weekly, September 15, 2004.