The Guardian October 22, 2003

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Letters to the Editor:

Walk for me

My young friend who is now in his third year behind wire in 
one of Australia's detention camps on Nauru writes to me most 
eloquently of "freedom". Maybe we cannot imagine what it is like 
to ask for protection and find yourself locked up without 

Walk For Me

Walk for me
Out of your house
Through big cities
Cross busy streets

Walk for me
To any big restaurant
Feel people talking happily
Order something out of routine

"What should I send you?"
My pen friend wrote to me
Can you send me the feeling of a bird?
When it flies in the vast open sky

But when he does take that fateful flight back to Afghanistan, he 
will be facing the same terrors that compelled him to run in the 
first place.

There will be no chance to pursue his love of physics and 
language. There will be no chance to find a wife, marry and feed 
his children. The Taliban are back. The country is in ruins.

What verbs will this young man use to characterise his actions 
then? "hide"? "scurry"? "freeze"? "starve"? "tremble"?

He longs to have his intellect, hopes and happiness "soar" like 
the bird.

Australia, Australia, what are we doing?

Elaine and Geoff Smith
West Haven, NSW

The ALP and the US FTA
We understand that the ALP has serious reservations about the 
Free Trade Agreement apparently soon to be concluded with the US. 
The Progressive Labour Party is completely opposed to the FTA and 
has made that clear in its submission to the Senate Inquiry 
earlier this year.

Our question is: Does the ALP have a commitment to NOT honour the 
Treaty if there is no Parliamentary approval for this Treaty and 
will it make this clear to the public prior to signing?

Secondly, will the ALP call for a Referendum on the proposed 
Treaty so that the voters have an opportunity to record their 

In terms of the Constitution Parliamentary or popular approval is 
not required for foreign treaties. The position is similar for 
engagement in war and we have just experienced the making of such 
a seriously flawed decision by the Howard Government this year.

It seems to us that the potentially far reaching nature of an FTA 
requires that it cannot be left to the Government alone to decide 
on such matters without a clear mandate.

Klaas Woldring
National Secretary, Progressive Labour Party

Howard at Kuta
Seeing John Howard hugging relatives of the Bali bombing 
victims was a sickening reminder of Argentine General Galtieri 
expressing sympathy with the Mothers of the Disappeared in the 
Plaza de Mayo, when his policies were directly responsible for 
the deaths of thousands in Argentina's Dirty War.

The Howard Government enthusiastically joined Britain and the US 
in this illegal war, which, as predicted, has resulted in a 
tragic fiasco.

Nearly 200 US lives have been lost since George W Bush declared 
war's end, countless Iraqi lives have been snuffed out, about 
A$750 million has been sucked out of Australian education, health 
and welfare, Iraq is now irradiated with depleted uranium and 
unexploded ordnance, Islamic jihadists have been inflamed and 
Australian tourists have been massacred in Bali as a direct 

Let us hope the Kuta memorial to all those innocent Australians 
will become the epitaph to a criminally negligent and hubristic 
government that has consistently dumped human values in favour of 
profits, prestige and power.

Gareth Smith & Maxine Caron
Byron Bay, NSW
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