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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: firstname.lastname@example.org Let's all get behind one of the world's most admirable and peace loving women, Dr Hanan Ashrawi. Halla Marbani
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
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
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 down. Bob GirvanBack to index page