The Guardian August 13, 2003


"Happy Birthday David" Thursday 7th August 2003

A growing number of Australians are speaking out about their concern for 
the well being of fellow Australians, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib who are 
currently being held, without charge, by the US military in Camp X-ray, 
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

These men have been kept in isolated and appalling conditions, subjected to 
ongoing interrogation and been cut effectively from the outside world, 
including their Australian and US legal counsel.

Given the lack of transparency and due process to date, it is feared that 
neither David nor Mamdouh will not receive a fair trial. There is further 
concern that if found "guilty" these men may be kept in such inhumane 
conditions for the rest of their lives.

"They are being unlawfully detained, in breach of all the norms of 
international law and in contravention of the Geneva Convention guidelines 
applying to prisoners of war", said Stephen Hopper, Mamdouh Habib's 
Australian solicitor.

Hannah Middleton, from the newly formed Sydney Peace and Justice Coalition 
stated: "These men have been tried by sections of the media and vilified by 
our political leaders. We need to remember, that whatever the 
circumstances, these men are 'two of our own', and have a right to have 
their basic human needs met, and to receive a fair and transparent trial."

Thursday August 7 was David Hicks' birthday. In Sydney, Adelaide and in 
country areas, Australians threw birthday parties to recognise David and 
Mamdouh as people who, like us, have birthdays and families, and have the 
same right to justice and basic human rights.

The theme was "hundreds and thousands", representing other Australians who 
enjoy the human rights and justice that David and Mamdouh are currently 
denied.

The birthday party in Sydney continued with a group meeting at the gates of 
Kirribilli House to present the birthday card to John Howard to deliver to 
David and call for David and Mamdouh to be repatriated to receive justice 
under Australian law.

Stephen Hopper (Mamdouh Habib's solicitor), Maha Habib (Mamdouh's wife) and 
Hannah Middleton spoke at the event.

In Adelaide there was a birthday cake, balloons, party hats and whistles 
and entertainment with Peter Coombe singing children's songs. Martyn Evans, 
member for Bonython cut the cake. Kay Bilney, from the Fair Go For David 
group in Adelaide, spoke: "We meet to remind John Howard and his 
government, all Australians and the world, that we have not forgotten David 
Hicks and Mamdou Habib, nor have we abandoned the rule of law in Australia.

"All Australian citizens are entitled to international human rights and 
conventions and representation by their government, a responsibility which 
has been denied David Hicks and Mamdou Habib by the Howard government.  
They have received no consular or legal representation while being caged, 
shackled and constantly interrogated.

"I know I speak not only for fairgofordavid but also the Hicks family when 
I sincerely thank Adelaide lawyer Steven Kenny who has supported the Hicks 
family and travelled to New York to assist David.

"We also thank the Australian Peace Committee SA branch, Amnesty 
International, the political parties, the Uniting Church in Australia and 
every other organisation and individual who defend the right to due 
process, the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial."

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