Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If you equivocate on the death penalty - human rights are imperilled

The most dangerous job in Burma and many other conflict hot spots is the job of informing us what is going on:

The debate in Australia on the death penalty reveals that both Liberal and Labor governments offer little comfort for human rights in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. Both will do nothing effective on the death penalty and a string of other issues.

The usual story is that 'megaphone diplomacy is ineffective. But 'back-channel diplomacy' is done in secret and we, as concerned citizens have no guarantee that anything at all is happening. Click here for the letters sent to Kevin Rudd:

On 9 October 2007 I wrote:

Dear Kevin Rudd

John Howard will be punching the air and laughing at your reprimand of Robert McClelland. Wedge politics Über Alles! We all hoped that you will demonstrate your conscience and good sense - on the death penalty you fail both tests, and you are probably enforcing your leadership through bullying yet again.

If you think the region's governments will listen to you when you lobby them to abolish the death penalty when you don't really believe in the universal abolition of this practice. They will be insulted and you will not succeed. How will that look in your book of ambitions? If you abolish the death penalty the rule applies to drug dealers, terrorists and paedophiles – whether you like it or not.

I think Robert McClelland made some very good points about this requirement for consistency. Far from being insensitive to the families of Bali bombing victims’, I think that you will find that some are already of the view that the death penalty is impotent and creates martyrs. Nor will it bring back their loved ones.

When you listed the countries we should target for abolition I note that Indonesia was not mentioned. Have you also heard that the Indonesian Anti-Terrorist Police has impressed their Western counterparts because they did not execute convicted terrorists? What they did instead was to keep them alive (detained) and treated them well and found out how they think. Some of these former terrorists are doing useful work for the authorities.

Honourable opponent – be honourable. You don’t only need the Hanson vote. But John Howard does.

Willy Bach

Greens candidate for Griffith

PM slams Rudd over death penalty

Dan Harrison and Peter Ker, October 9, 2007 - 10:48AM

Rudd admonishes McClelland over death penalty remarks

Rudd backs death penalty for Bali bombers,23739,22556427-953,00.html

Rudd to rid world of death penalty: book

By Rebekah van Druten

Posted Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:37pm AEST

Updated Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:25pm AEST

On 10 October 2007 I wrote to Senator Andrew Bartlett (Democrat):

Dear Andrew 10 10 07

It is now crystal clear that both Liberal and Labor have been - and continue to - actively hinder the blossoming of human rights practise and abolition of the death penalty in our region and around the world. Citizens of Australia are now deeply ashamed of the position taken by both these parties, unable to justify what is said or omitted in our names and unable to exert our democratic will. We have no choice but to take our own actions of protest. We must remember that the Howard government also voted against the UN ban on torture without consulting the people of Australia. John Howard has enthusiastically called for the execution of Saddam Hussein and the Bali bombers, breaching the abolitionist position and leaving the way for other executions to take place. First in the queue will be the Bali Nine heroin mules.

This realisation has several effects:

  1. That the Australian government’s bleating about democracy is hollow rhetoric without substance.
  2. The monks of Burma will receive no help from any Liberal or Labor government that prefers to maintain the oppressive military junta in power. This will include continued investment by Australian companies and the AFP training torturers in Burma.
  3. That Asian governments, like Singapore and China, where they routinely execute their own citizens, will execute Australian citizens with impunity – since these regional governments will correctly deduce that Australian governments do not speak with moral authority.
  4. That Asian governments will now understand that the Australian government only values the lives of their own citizens – an essentially racist position.
  5. That Australian citizens travelling abroad will now be at increased risk.
  6. That Asian governments will now understand that the Australian government does not care about the democratic rights of Asian countries.
  7. That Asian governments will now understand that the Australian government is willing to muzzle Australian citizens who criticise human rights abuses in Asian countries.
  8. That the Australian government may even reintroduce the death penalty for terrorist offences – and perhaps other offences too.

Sadly, fraternally, in anger and frustration

Willy Bach

Greens Candidate for Griffith

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