Western values through terrorism

Mustafa Malik, a Washington journalist, Daily Star, October 7:

“Human rights groups around the world are concerned that the UN resolution calling on governments to punish ‘incitement to terrorist acts’ will further stifle the voices of the oppressed, especially because the world body has failed to define what terrorism is.

“This resolution has, says Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth, ‘made it easy for abusive governments to invoke the resolution to target peaceful political opponents, impose censorship and close mosques, churches and schools.’

“The draft resolution that sought to define terrorism fell through in the UN General Assembly mainly because the United States and Britain opposed clauses that would permit “resistance against occupation” and call for the examination of the “root causes” of terrorism. America and Britain, representing the European Union, apparently were saying that if you have the guns you can not only invade and occupy countries, but should be able to rewrite political science, too.”

Australia is also currently engaged in a “terrorism” debate. The Howard government insists that new legislation is necessary to safeguard citizens against the terrorist threat. The details of the proposed laws are extreme and even some Liberals are questioning its severity. The Age’s Michelle Grattan rightly argues that the government cannot be trusted on this issue:

“It’s easy for critics to argue that opponents of the anti-terrorism laws are exaggerating their misuse. This overlooks history and human nature. This Government’s treatment of asylum seekers, and its patent disregard for the rights of [Guantanamo detainees] David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib do not encourage giving it the benefit of the doubt.”

An Australian citizen should have the right to openly and strongly oppose government policy. Being against the Howard government’s foreign policy is but one of these issues, not least the folly of the Iraq campaign. Who will define what “encouraging someone to fight for the enemy” means?

I was against the Iraq war. I was not therefore supporting Saddam or his regime. I have a sneaking suspicion that the “you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists” ideology is creeping into Australia. It should be vigorously opposed.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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