The Guardian October 29, 2003

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Letters of 300-400 words are preferred.

Letters to the Editor:

Hanan Ashrawi campaign

I write in protest and indignation about the recent decision 
by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Ms. Lucy Turnbull, to boycott the 
upcoming Awards that will honour Dr Hanan Ashrawi as the Peace 
Prize recipient.

Dr Ashrawi has for years worked tirelessly towards a peace and 
just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Any true 
objective investigation into her life and achievements would 
prove that she is truly more than worthy of this award. Apart 
from being one of the greatest role-models any peace activist can 
have, she is also a world-renowned and respected human rights and 
women's rights activist.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson who, when Dr 
Ashawi's award was announced said: "I admire Dr Ashwari's 
courage, integrity and commitment to seeking a peaceful and just 
solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has been an 
outspoken critic from the inside, calling for reform of the 
Palestinian Authority. She has the respect of the international 
human rights community for her condemnation of violence on all 
sides and for her work to achieve a just peace."

And, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu from Cape Town was quoted 
as saying: "In current times no-one could be more deserving of 
this prestigious award. Against daunting odds she has remained 
committed to finding a peaceful solution to what seems an 
intractable problem. She gives hope to all those who might be 
tempted to despair."

Let us not forget, it was Dr Ashrawi that espoused the sentiment: 
"The solution to the Palestinian  Israeli conflict must emanate 
from a spirit of tolerance and sharing, not one of blind hatred 
and exclusion."

The Lord Mayor's boycott of her awards event therefore, is one 
that will be seen as being most undeserved and unjustifiable. I 
urge everyone to call the Lord Mayor's office and voice their 
protest against this unfair and unwarranted decision.

Phone toll free on 1300 651 301
The e-mail address for those wishing to send letters is:

Let's all get behind one of the world's most admirable and peace 
loving women, Dr Hanan Ashrawi.

Halla Marbani
Sydney, NSW

Torture in Guantanamo
President Bush has denied that Camp X-Ray prisoners in Cuba, 
including two Australians, are being tortured. However, the UN 
Convention Against Torture defines torture as: "any act by which 
severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is 
intentionally inflicted".

In many US states, prisons and mental institutions routinely use 
behaviour modification methods which clearly violate the 
Convention. For example, paralysing drugs like anectine which 
produce all the sensations of drowning and near death experience 
are used aversively. Anyone who has experienced anectine is 
terrified of a repeat treatment.

Drugs like Largactil and Seranace, so-called "liquid coshes", are 
used instead of straight jackets.

Remotely controlled stun belts zap a prisoner with 50,000 volts 
to the kidneys, causing involuntary defecation and urination.

Prisoners are shackled in the foetal position for many hours, 
often with hoods over their heads to induce sensory deprivation.

None of these methods cause external, visible damage, but they 
can be as traumatising as the mediaeval rack.

It is significant that the US campaigned against the Optional 
Protocol to the Convention which would permit inspections of 
prisons by external observers because of concerns it had 
regarding Camp X-Ray.

By September 2003, Argentina, Costa Rica, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, 
Denmark, Norway and the UK are the only states that have signed 
the Protocol. No state has yet ratified it.

Australia ratified the Convention and therefore has an obligation 
to refer allegations of torture against David Hicks and Mamdouh 
Habib to the Convention Committee for investigation. The Howard 
Government's intransigence on this shames Australia and sends an 
appalling message to all 111 torturing states.

Gareth Smith
Byron Bay, NSW

Whistling in the wind
I have been somewhat bemused by the letters written about the 
ALP by apparently intelligent, knowledgeable people  they must 
have been  they were Guardian readers!

They wrote in the belief, hope, prayer that the ALP would 
"return" to rejuvenate, resurrect itself into the working class 
party of their imagination and hopes.

With all due respect to the sincerity of the founders  and the 
many of their ilk who had more working class thought and feeling 
in their little finger than some of the present day 
representatives have in the whole of their bodies  these letter 
writers are whistling in the wind.

For my part I gave up believing in fairies at the bottom of the 
garden in my early teens and have had no occasion to change.

I will repeat what I have written before.

The ALP is the second string capitalist party  despite all the 
rhetoric and lip service  just like Howard's "concern" for the 
little Aussie battler  but underlying (very apt) is the real 
core assumption that capitalism is really the peak  it only 
needs a few "reforms" to make it more acceptable.

The right-wing leaders of the ALP and the unions are capitalist 
saboteurs of the working class struggle. The majority of them 
have no faith in the worker  in fact some leaders  Carr for 
example are actually contemptuous of the worker.

The editorial (Guardian 1/10/03) was very apt and timely. 
In my humble opinion the ALP leaders do not want to win the next 
election because they would have to expose themselves as 
upholders and defenders of capitalist system. It is much safer to 
have the smokescreen of opposition.

B Appleton
Killcare Hts, NSW

No doubt which direction
There is no doubt which direction we are heading in Australia 
today. We only have to look at the United States of America, the 
United Kingdom and New Zealand to get a rough idea of what is 
going on.

There are two main trends or directions. The first is the "Global 
Economy", where decisions and policy are made overseas in 
corporate boardrooms in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Paris 
or Frankfurt.

The second trend directed by the first, is the cut in government 
spending and withdrawal by the government from former 
responsibilities like health, education and welfare, and also the 
relinquishment of public transport, public housing and industrial 
relations wage fixing, occupational health and safety, workplace 
inspection, and public broadcasting.

Prime Minister Howard has already said this publicly but not in 
so many words.

However individuals in his ministry like Dr Kemp and Amanda 
Vanstone are talking about privatising schools and there is a 
push for private medical and health insurance and for private so-
called "public" hospitals.

The idea is that the state government will be reduced to a few 
"core functions", like law and order, the police, courts, prisons 
and a few other regulatory roles like traffic or road safety.

It will be like a trip back to ancient Rome, where the state only 
had a few "core functions" and the patricians took turns at being 
Senators, Magistrates, Generals, Scholars, etc!

Overseas control of the economy is rapidly increasing.

One graphic example in Sydney is the East Circular Quay project, 
owned by Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank and ruining the view of the 
Opera House, with Premier Carr saying that there is nothing the 
government can do because the previous Liberal government signed 
a contract and it would cost the State $750 million to pull it 

Bob Girvan
Greenacre, NSW
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