Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

CHOGM perfect place to hold Sri Lankan war criminals to account

My following piece appears in today’s ABC The Drum:

In late September, the government of Sri Lanka released 1,800 former Tamil Tiger fighters.

Colombo claimed they had been rehabilitated as President Mahinda Rajapaksa told them at a ceremony in the capital:

“I hope you will work for peace and ethnic harmony in this nation of ours. We must not dwell on the bitter past, but look to a prosperous future.”

Many other former fighters remain incommunicado, housed in secret camps away from international inspection or human rights protection.

This is occurring in “democratic” Sri Lanka, a nation still deeply divided along racial and political lines.

The over two years since the official end of the country’s brutal civil war has seen an attempted re-branding exercise by the Rajapaksa regime, including the encouragement of a vibrant tourist sector.

Despite the fact that the government murdered at least 40,000 Tamil civilians during the last period of the war (a figure confirmed by then UN spokesman in Colombo, Gordon Weiss), the international community has been reluctant to hold officials to account.

A thorough UN-led investigation found overwhelming evidence of war crimes committed by both sides during the conflict and Ban Ki-Moon recently submitted this report to the UN Human Rights Council for investigation. The move was condemned by Colombo.

After a 10-month investigation, the UN found that “most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling”. Furthermore, it made accusations that Sri Lankan troops had shelled civilians in the “no-fire zone” and targeted hospitals in its desire to crush the Tamil Tigers.

A recently released WikiLeaks cable revealed that when Ban Ki-Moon visited the country in 2009 he witnessed “complete destruction” when he flew over the former “no-fire zone”. He described the conditions of Manik Farm refugee camp as worse than anything he had ever seen before.

This background is essential to understand as we approach the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), being held in Perth in late October. Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa will be attending and Sri Lanka is scheduled to host CHOGM in 2013. Serious questions are now being asked by human rights groups in Australia and globally, Tamil organisations and some brave politicians; why is Sri Lanka being indulged at the expense of justice for its countless victims?

In September a letter was sent to the Commonwealth foreign ministers that was signed by the world’s leading human rights groups.

It read in part:

“We are gravely concerned about the ongoing discussions on holding the 2013 CHOGM in Sri Lanka. At the 2009 CHOGM, Sri Lanka’s candidature for hosting the meeting was deferred from 2011 to2013 because of concerns about human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government. While war-time abuses have ended, the situation in Sri Lanka continues to be characterised by serious human rights violations, including assault on democratic institutions, such as the media and trade unions. The Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary-General to advise him on the status of allegations of war crimes during the last weeks of the conflict in Sri Lanka has concluded that serious abuses were committed by the government and by the LTTE, and warrant an international investigation.”

The statement called on Sri Lanka to implement numerous changes before it would be awarded hosting honours in 2013. Furthermore, Sri Lanka is keen to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and the Commonwealth itself, never known to be overly pro-active against human rights abusers, is being asked to not consider Colombo’s application.

Federal Greens MP Lee Rhiannon has been one of the most consistent Australian politicians keeping the issue of war crimes in Sri Lanka in the public arena. Although her party failed to convince the Labor and Liberal parties to support a Senate motion to suspend Sri Lanka from the Councils of the Commonwealth, she pledged to continue pressuring the Federal Government to convince Colombo to establish an independent war crimes commission.

Rhiannon hosted a roundtable of experts in the Federal Parliament in September that called for Sri Lanka’s suspension of the Commonwealth. She said:

“With CHOGM shortly to be held in Perth, the Australian government needs to add its voice and ensure that all Commonwealth nations uphold principles of human rights and the rule of law.”

Unsurprisingly, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Canberra, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe (a man with a troubling past) rejected the roundtable’s recommendation, issuing the following Orwellian statement:

The [Sri Lanka] government had to take military action to defeat the terrorists to save the civilians.

In other words, we had to destroy the population in order to save it.

Intriguingly, conservative Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, one of the world’s strongest backers of Israel, recently announced that he intended “to make clear to my fellow leaders at the Commonwealth that if we do not see progress in Sri Lanka in terms of human rights… I will not as prime minister be attending that Commonwealth summit [in 2013].”. Harper also strongly backed calls for an independent investigation of alleged war crimes during the war.

The British Tory government, at times critical of Colombo’s behaviour, is currently embroiled in a scandal involving the Defence Secretary Liam Fox. He is accused of both being far too close to the Sri Lankan government and backing its war against the Tamils.

Although Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has also called for an investigation, the Labor government remains desperate for Colombo to assist its flailing asylum seeker policy. Canberra has praised the Rajapaksa regime for stopping boats of Tamils fleeing the nation, a move rightly slammed by John Dowd, president of the International Commission of Jurists.

“It is likely these asylum seekers will be treated harshly when all they have done is exercise a legal right,” Dowd said. “People who are desperate to get away from Sri Lanka know that it is a dangerous enterprise coming by sea. We Australians praise ourselves as great humanitarians – this is hardly an example of compassion.”

Australia’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Kathy Klugman, recently told the state’s Sunday Times newspaper that, “close to 100 Sri Lankans have been returned from Australia in the past few years”. The fate of returned Tamils at the hands of government thugs is often brutal, according to investigations by human rights organisation.

Klugman was also recently publicly attacked for handing out certificates to alleged Tamil rebels after the alleged “rehabilitation” program, legitimising a program that is both secretive and unproven. Rehabilitation can take many forms post conflict.

For the Australian Government, in the midst of a refugee drama it has no idea how to manage politically or legally, war crimes in Sri Lanka is far less important than stopping refugee boats.

The status of Sri Lanka in the 21st century is of a political elite triumphantly thriving on racial supremacy ideology.

The recent discovery of gas deposits in its waters will only strengthen the fears that a resource curse will benefit the Sinhalese majority against the Tamil minority.

The international community has a moral and legal responsibility to hold Sri Lanka to account. Failing this basic task will merely encourage other states engaged in a “war on terror”, from America to Israel and Yemen to Afghanistan, to act with impunity against civilians.

CHOGM is the perfect opportunity to challenge Rajapaksa over his government’s wilful murder of Tamils under the guise of defeating terrorism. It is arguable whether he should even be allowed into the country but if he arrives in Perth he should be made to realise that he has the blood of innocents on his hands.

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian independent journalist who sits on the advisory council of the UK-based Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice.

5 comments ↪
  • Tom Perry

    Really Antony? You are a genius! If the world had more of you, terrorists would rule the world!

    News Flash! The Sri Lankan population is free of terrorists! Tamil Tiger Terrorists that is…

    • Shiva

      Tom Perry, Sri Lanka is free for War criminals, White Van abductors, Grease devils and not for human rights and Rule of Law.

      34 Journalists are mudered under this regime; 17 Charity Workers brutally murderd by the govt forces; there were gruesome crimes committed by this alleged war criminal Rajapakse regime that must require independent international investigation of all crimes.

      If Rajapakse is clean, he must allow Independent investigation of crimes committed by all sides. This is 21st century and no place for criminals and war criminals.

  • Dayana

    Dear Antony,
    I am a Sri Lankan Australian with extensive experience in charity/community work both in Sri Lanka and here. I am a mother with young children, a passionate campainer for human rights and an environmentalist. I have some very interesting info/data for your Sri Lanka project that I would like to share with you confidentially. How do I communicate with you? Can I please have your email address first?

  • John Lennon.

    Minorities are terrorists ?? Then how would you call the man who killed 40,000 innocent people?? Well I know is he ain't even deserve to live , he have to be behind the bars

  • Shiva

    If the International Community truly believe and respect Human Rights, Mankind, Democracy, Humanity, Rule of Law, R2P and International law, they must invade Sri Lanka forcefully and investigates crimes committed by all sides, accountability and deliver justice to the victims.

    The world has allowed an alleged war criminal free to commit more and more crimes against humanity at will.