The Guardian October 23, 2002


They also grieve

The death and destruction in Bali has brought forth justifiable 
outpourings of grief that have followed the terrible loss of life. It is to 
the enormous credit of the people who have lost relatives and friends, and 
Australian society as a whole, that people have generally not been deceived 
by the racist and religious stirrings that have come in torrents from the 
mass media and Government leaders.

However, the event must be put in perspective if those who are using it for 
nefarious warmongering ends are to be prevented from having their way.

When the Sievx, sank off the coast of Indonesia, 353 men, women and 
children were drowned. The boat was carrying refugees on their way to 
Christmas Island and, in pursuit of the Government's inhumane refugee 
policy had to be stopped. The Senate is holding an inquiry into the event 
and there is a suggestion that Australian agents may have actually 
sabotaged the boat prior to its departure.

Although John Howard called upon Australians to "wrap our arms  not only 
around our fellow Australians  but our arms around the people of 
Indonesia" , this sentiment has not been extended to refugees or to the 
victims of war in many other countries.

Thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives during the US bombing of 
Afghanistan. They also have friends and relatives  young children, 
beautiful young adults in the prime of their lives  snuffed out by a 
missile fired from a US or British warplane.

Loss of life caused by a bomb hidden in a motor vehicle causes no more or 
less suffering than bombs dropped from on high.

Then there was the 70-day bombardment of Yugoslavia that killed many 
civilians. Have we forgotten the bombing of the motor vehicles carrying 
refugees from Kosovo? Those killed were all civilians.

Almost every day for the last 10 years, British and American planes have 
been dropping bombs on Iraq. Many of the casualties have been civilians. 
Then there are the sanctions. Up to a million Iraqi children are estimated 
to have lost their lives because medicine and food have not been allowed 
into the country. Australian naval forces at the command of the Government 
have been directly involved in rigorously imposing this barbarous blockade.

Those who suffered injuries or lost their lives had families, children, 
wives and husbands. They also played sport, sang and danced, were teachers 
or farmers. They also grieve.

Is it any wonder that millions of people are resentful towards those who 
are systematically imposing such conditions and whose actions have resulted 
in massive loss of life?

Currently the Israeli army is killing Palestinians every day of the week in 
what is a David and Goliath conflict. A recent report says that about 80 
percent of the nearly 2000 Palestinians killed have been children. Thus, we 
have the violent and bloody response from Palestinians resisters who resort 
to using their bodies as weapons against the might of the occupying Israeli 
military. So more innocents die.

When American forces invaded Panama in 1989 to maintain American control of 
the Panama Canal, 5000 people were killed and 3000 were wounded.

The Australian Government of the day did not protest because the US is our 
"ally" and, presumably, can do as it likes in disregard of international 
law. The invasion of Panama was a breach of the United Nations Charter and 
a unilateral act of aggression.

It is to be hoped that the tragedy of Bali will help the Australian people 
to understand that war is the real terrorist threat to the world.

Wars imposed on other countries, the loss of life, the imposition of 
colonial governments, the poverty, unemployment and homelessness resulting 
from the policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. 
These are the real causes of the frustration, hopelessness and anger that 
fuels the desperation of some to commit futile acts of retribution that 
have such tragic outcomes.
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