Opinion Australia

One man’s view of how the world might be.

Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

David Hicks – the saga continues

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The majority of people around the world have probably never heard of David Hicks or if they ever knew the name have all bar forgotten who he was, the troubles he got himself into… and the abandonment of this Australian citizen by the politicians who were sworn to protect his rights.

I’m not one to claim David was perfect by any means. He was a badly educated somewhat mentally unstable loner who, for reasons of his own, decided to go to fight first with the ‘Kosovo Liberation Front’, then with the Taliban, and lastly with Al Qaeda.

That he ‘underwent training’ of some sort with each of these organisations seems acceptable enough in the story as told but what concerns us is his treatment after the 9/11 attacks on the USA and the offensive that unseated the Taliban power base in Afghanistan, and resulted in David’s unlawful detention and imprisonment by US troops.

There is no need for me to go into his case in detail, if you want to follow it up most can be found in his Wikipedia article. which covers his history, his supposed offences and the resultant drawn out machinations of the bureaucracy that kept him imprisoned for almost 8 years.

What incensed me at the time of his detention and torture by the USA is what *still* incenses me today… that is his almost total abandonment by the Liberal government of the day headed by John Howard. It’s clear from all articles that at the time David was detained he had committed no crime that would result in a trial in either the USA or Australia, yet instead of demanding he be repatriated, as Tony Blair did for UK prisoners, John Howard simply left David to rot.

Yes he eventually pleaded guilty of a crime and was convicted… but both offence and conviction was carried through by a military court procedure created specifically to try him. That his treatment was against both the terms and the spirit of the Geneva Convention is beyond doubt. That he felt he had no alternative other than plead guilty is also beyond doubt. Has he not done so he could well have remained imprisoned in solitary confinement for many more years.

Since being back in Australia he has served the remainder of his sentence and is now released but under a ‘Control Order’ restricting his freedoms significantly. Recently he was has appealed through the GetUp organisation for the Control Order to not be renewed by the Australian Federal Police. Luckily the Rudd government has more political nous than the Liberals they replaced and they have said when the Order expires on 21st December it will not be renewed.

UPDATE – AFP NOT TO RENEW ORDER. STATEMENT FROM DAVID HICKS:
“Today’s AFP decision is a great relief for my family and me. I owe the Australian people a lot. I want to thank all Australians for their support. The decision not to renew my control order will allow me for the first time to now move on with my life.Thank you.”

David Hicks Statement of Thanks

That David was an idiot is beyond question. That he might have fought for the Taliban is a distinct possibility though not proven. That he has been treated abysmally by the Governments of two friendly nations is beyond question. The abandonment of David Hicks to torture in the hell-hole of Guantanamo Bay is a blot on the face of Australian history.

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Written by welshdog

November 20, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Lest we forget…

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At a time when our young people are still bravely holding the line against the forces of evil, let us not forget those who made the ‘supreme sacrifice’ and laid down their lives to keep us free.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

(Written by Lt.-Col. John McCrae on 3rd May, 1915, in memory of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who he’d seen killed the previous day.)

Laurence Binyon’s “For the Fallen”,

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Note: At 11 o”clock on the 11th day of the 11th Month… we observe a minute’s silence as a mark of respect.

Written by welshdog

November 11, 2008 at 9:29 am

Life changing experiences

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Most of the media commemorations of the 9/11 attack on New York were written and published yesterday… ours memory is slightly different so waits until today to write.

It was seven years ago this morning that I switched on the television. The wife was on a business trip and I never sleep well when she’s away so was up early. The sight that greeted me was a plane flying directly into the second of the two towers. I stood there for an hour hardly moving as events unfolded and more news came in of places ‘disappearing’, and the White House being attacked. Then the towers collapsed and like everyone else I was totally lost for words or any way of expressing what I was feeling.

For me the issue was more personal that many watching the dram because the business trip the wife had taken was to New York for the first time and I had no idea where she was in the city… and had no phone number to try to contact her on.

Neither of us were unaware of terrorism of course. Having lived in London and having survived a few near misses from IRA bombs over the years, we weren’t totally naiive about the possibility of being killed… but this was different, maybe because we were so far apart.

For obvious reasons it took a long time for her to call and reassure me all was well and she was in fact a long way from the centre. Nevertheless it was enough for me that she *might* have been sightseeing and *might* have got caught up in it all. Besides, there was no way of us knowing that she wasn’t caught up in some all out attack on the USA!!

She tried to leave immediately but again, with all flights cancelled it wasn’t an easy process. Eventaully she got a flight thru Japan and got to Oz safe and sound.

Thing is, despite her being in no danger whatsoever, we were both very traumatised by it all. Her company (IBM) did absolutely nothing to help her get over it and we’ve just had to cope. However, even now, all these years later, is something to do with 9/11 comes on the TV…  she gets up and leaves the room.

Can’t say I blame her. When I look at footage of the buildings collapse or reports of new evidence and similr, *I* still get cold shivers up and down my spine thinking what could have been.

So this is my memory of 9/11 albeit a day after everyone elses.

Written by welshdog

September 12, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Insane in America

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The USA is determined to address what it sees as possible criminal or terrorist potential by temporary workers. It’s doing this by deporting people, who have committed an offence, back to their country of origin. This seems quite reasonable, except that they are doing this regardless of the time they’ve spent in the US, or the length of time since the offence.

In the case of 35 years old Welsh born Zak Ashenhurst, 35, his offence was firing a gun into an empty swimming pool and was committed some 20 years ago. Ok a silly offence, possibly dangerous at the time, but done when he was a child! Not only was he a child, but was recovering from Osteomyelitis which he had feared would kill him and was a little ‘stressed’ at the time to say the least! He fronted the courts at the time, was fined, and pulled himself back into line. He went on to create a good life.

He married an American girl and had two children Zaky, 12, and Nicki, five. And has worked ever since.

Over the years the Green Card residents use to maintain their right to work in the US expired and was renewed without incident… until a few weeks ago when officials unearthed his old conviction and, using laws unused for decades, decided he was a risk to national security and threw him in prison.

He was there for a month until he was removed from the country and deported back to the UK yesterday.

This ridiculous and unfair decision has left Zak in what is now almost a foreign country, and unsure whether his family, all American citizens, will be allowed to join him!

Nobody is underestimating the dangers of terrorist activity but surely the lunacy of deporting a solid citizen  for something he did as a youngster should be obvious even to a faceless bureaucrat? The *most* that should have been done was to use Zak as a role model for the thousands of kids that are running wild in US schools! The example of someone who make a mistake and turned his life around should be a positive message used to help otehrs who might be heading down the wrong path! It should not be a cause for further punishment!

The situation is entirely ridiculous and the UK foreign office should be doing all it can to ensure that his family is allowed to join him… if the want to! After all, these are American citizens effectively being told they must choose between living as a single parent family in their homeland or joining their father in a foreign country and facing an uncertain economic future.

The utter unfairness of it just can’t be over stated – though I doubt the US administration would be concerned about this one small family unit, no matter how abysmally it’s treated them.

Edit:
Having trawled around looking for more information I turned up this gem. According to The Star News, this sort of treatment is nothing new. Back in 2004 an 83 year old guy, nominally a ‘Frenchman’ who had committed a long forgotten minor offence, was deported back to Paris despite having lived in the US for 52 years! He was kept in prison for 7 months before being sent back to a country he knew little about and despite him having nowhere in France to go!

Home of the free? Think again!! Right now in the USA Xenophobia rules.

Written by welshdog

August 21, 2008 at 7:00 am

Travel the world, meet new people, & kill them.

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Bizarre story surfacing over in Australia suggesting our soldiers in Afghanistan are being laughed at by others of the coalition forces because they take part in a highly limited number of front line missions in which they actively engage ‘the enemy’.

Whether these allegations are true or not I have no way of knowing. However, if true, and whether the soldiers feel resentful that the stories are spreading… or in fact they *aren’t* given more front line roles, I doubt their partners, children or parents are in the slightest part upset by the news.

If my child decided to join an army and was posted on active duty, I’d be more than pleased if their duties kept them well away from any battle zone. There are huge numbers of ancillary support roles that *must* be carried out in order to keep the guys at the front line able to function at peak efficiency and if it’s out troops who carry out these tasks well I for one am not complaining. They are doing their duty and that’s all we need ask of them.

I’m sorry if I appear less supportive of the offensive against the Taliban and Islamic extremists than I might be, but the fewer Australians who die abroad fighting for questionable causes the better in my book.

Source: ABC News

Written by welshdog

May 27, 2008 at 3:06 pm