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How dissent with the Invasion of Iraq could lead to being charged with sedition under Australian laws

Home of Terror?

Hello, and welcome to the home page for our ORANGE anti-terrorism legislation section. It's an ORANGE section, symbolising the ORANGE of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre overalls or "jumpsuits".

Image: thanks to Matt Golding and The Age Newspaper

The link between the anti-terrorism legislation in Australia, the UK and the USA and the September 11 Twin Towers attack is well established.

Similarly, the link between the invasion of the "Coalition of the Willing" of Iraq (which remains an illegal invasion until this day) - we rather call it the Coalition of the Killing or Chilling - and the attack on the Twin Towers, and the unbelievably biased and overpowering War on Terror is well established.

The Orange Jumpsuit, reserved for USA jail inmates and those in Guantanamo Bay detention camp

This is the reason we've included in this section on our website, also articles and pages relating to the Iraq war, the way the US government has handled itself in this context, and the reflection of this approach in Australian politics since the 9/11 attacks.

Below, in the large table of links, you'll find a large collection of pages related to this issue. Those pages do not all have the ORANGE header - some of these pages have an overlap to other sections and their contents on this website.

Declaration: Project SafeCom abhors terrorist action, and we equally abhor actions by governments that curtail universal human rights and that take away in whatever way all forms of open, accountable and independent legal access and judiciary review or those "allegedly" connected to terrorism or those charged with terrorism offenses.

Some Terrorlaws resources:

17 November 2005: The Law Council opposes the Terror Bill - The Law Council of Australia urges the government to abandon proposals to introduce preventative detention orders and control orders. Persons not charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence should not be subjected by the State to imprisonment without trial...

17 November 2005: Will you Cross The Floor, Senator? - an unexpected window of opportunity has appeared, small, but significant. While Parliament was planning to rush these laws through, delays caused by the Industrial Regulations Bills postposed the debate and the voting for the Terror laws in the lower house.

12 November 2005: Of Treason and Sedition - Stop acting like an artist, and especially, stop critiquing Australian society if that includes the Howard government. You may be accused of treason or sedition. Some people already are, in underhand communication coming from the Prime Minister's office.

10 November 2005: Decent Liberals and their terror fears - two of the most interesting speeches in Parliament this week, and they're both from the government bench -from two Liberal party members, Petro Georgiou MP, and Steven Ciobo MP.

9 November 2005: The terror laws: What you can do - This page is a web-page copy of the Anti-terrorism Legislation Action Kit distributed throughout the networks shortly after the Perth Forum. The Kit is also downloadable from this page as a PDF File.

4 Nov 2005 Perth Forum: Rosemary Longhurst: Is Australia afraid? - We are concerned that this package of legislation conveys to the world that Australia is afraid - indicating to the terrorists that they are achieving their aim of generating terror and forcing governments into ever more punitive stances.

4 Nov 2005 Perth Forum: Senator Rachel Siewert: Terror Australis - within the space of a few short months we are now experiencing a fundamental erosion of our democracy and the Australian way of life. The scope of this change is so large it is almost difficult to comprehend, and it is occurring across a front so wide that effective opposition seems to be stymied.

4 Nov 2005 Perth Forum: Mark Cox LLB: Terrifying Democracy - Judges, lawyers, academics, civil and professional organisations, respected individuals, and wide sections of the Australian community, justifiably believe that the Bill and related Federal "anti-terrorist" legislation enacted since 2002 seriously undermine...

4 Nov 2005 Perth Forum: Michael Sinclair-Jones: Risking a Totalitarian State - My union believes the penalty aims to silence journalists, intimidate them into submission, and will allow miscarriages of justice to go unquestioned and - inevitably - unnoticed.

1 November 2005: When the Terrorist Strikes - Resources for Anti-Terror Bill dissenters - You may need to consider how you will have to publicly declare your hand of overt dissent ... if these laws stand as they are at the moment you may need to consider whether in your life a case exists for undermining these laws.

A letter from Tony Kevin to John Howard

Tony Kevin will read out the text of this letter at the rally to protest these laws on the Parliament House front lawn, starting at 1200 today 28 November:

Tony Kevin
(full address supplied)

The Prime Minister,
The Rt Hon John Howard,
Parliament House,
Canberra ACT 2600

28 November, 2005

Dear Mr Howard,

You are reported (AAP, 11 November 2005) as saying that the Federal Government will not water down its anti-terrorism bill, and has no plans to scrap sedition provisions in the bill. You also reportedly rejected (Radio Australia, 15 November) calls by Premiers Beattie and Bracks to remove the sedition provisions. Yet you assured the public that under the proposed laws, Australians will maintain their right to criticise politicians. You said:

"Journalists, cartoonists, actors and all other sundry critics of the government have nothing to fear from these new proposals" .... "People can still attack me and Mr Beazley and lampoon us, as I am sure they will, without any fear of being put in the slammer."

Mr Howard, in trying to make light of this serious issue, you miss the main point: that it would be wrong for your government to pass new laws, while at the same time assuring certain groups in Australian society that they are protected from these laws.

If there is to be a new sedition law, its provisions will have to apply impartially and without fear or favour to all groups or persons in Australian society. Otherwise, we will no longer have a rule of law, but arbitrary tyranny. If you are ready to pass and use sedition laws against Muslim clerics or teachers, whose words your officials decide might risk inciting acts of terrorism by Muslims, you have to be equally ready to enforce those same laws against people who are neither Muslim nor supporters of acts of terrorism, but whose speech and writing may come within the ambit of these laws.

You will know my name, Tony Kevin. I am a former Australian career diplomat, twice an ambassador for my country. I was a member of the Group of 43 former diplomats and senior defence officers who issued a statement in August 2003 condemning your involvement of Australia in the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq. In response to our group's statement, you said in Parliament on 10 August 2003:

"The 43 people comprise a mixture of people who have over the years been, in some cases, regular critics of this government. They include one person who accused the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Federal Police of complicity in the drowning of 353 refugees. To expect for a moment that I am going to treat that person with the sort of reverence that is asked of me by the Leader of the Opposition - as far as I am concerned I have dealt with the merits of their arguments ....."

My book which you there rejected, "A Certain Maritime Incident: the Sinking of SIEV X" (Scribe, August 2004) sets out the public history of your government's improper cover-up of whatever it might know about the events leading up to this maritime tragedy that took place in Australia's naval and RAAF-patrolled border protection zone, in international waters to the south of the Sunda Strait. I do not know whether the covert people smuggling disruption program that your government agencies conducted in Indonesia in 2000-2001 contributed to instigating this tragedy. I do know that your government's policy of preventing legal family reunions for refugees who had come to Australia on unauthorized boat voyages led directly to the tragedy. Most of the drowned victims were women and children, trying to join their husbands and fathers in Australia, and who had no legal way of coming here under your migration laws as amended in 2001.

You have ignored for three years the Australian Senate's repeated motions calling for a full-powers independent judicial inquiry into these unresolved questions. In so shirking your responsibility as Prime Minister, you leave a cloud over the honour of Australia's defence force, federal police and senior government departments and agencies that were working to protect Australia's borders at the time SIEV X sank.

I have sent a copy of my book as a gift to every Senator. They now have a source of detailed factual information about SIEV X. The issue will not go away.

You are responsible as Prime Minister for many other examples of illegal and seriously life-threatening policies and actions, in which you and your senior national security Ministers have in my view violated your duty of care to protect human life. For example:

Policies and actions that made Australia a military party to the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent huge and ongoing crimes against humanity taking place in that country. The misrepresentation and misuse of alleged coalition intelligence about WMD said to be in Saddam Hussein's possession. The illegal invasion and commencement of armed combat in Iraq by Australian SAS forces, 30 hours before the expiry of a declared US ultimatum to Hussein to step down. The ADF's involvement in the planning and conduct of the major US Army war crime that was the destruction of the city of Fallujah in October-November 2004, that killed thousands of civilians and displaced 200,000 persons from their homes. The ADF's assistance to US Army efforts to conceal from the International Red Cross the facts about ongoing tortures at Abu Ghraib prison.

Again, your government's failure to honour its duty of care to warn Australian holidaymakers in Bali in 2001-2002 of high-quality intelligence that was known to ONA and ASIO, that such places in South East Asia where Westerners were known to gather in large numbers had become high-risk terrorism targets. During the months leading up to the Bali attacks in October 2002, your government agencies were warning their own personnel about these risks, while repeatedly promulgating false public assurances to ordinary Australians that tourism services to Bali were operating normally.

Again, your government failed to protect Australian citizens David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib from cruel and illegal torture, rendition, and captivity in Guantanamo Bay. Your government is now failing in its manifest duty to return Hicks home after four years of cruel US captivity without trial, to the point where he has had to request British citizenship through his mother. This is shameful of you.

Your government is failing to make sincere and serious efforts to save Van Nguyen from execution in Singapore.

It is profoundly unjust that your government is cruelly deporting and washing its hands of former Australian prisoners at the end of their sentences, who have in some cases been permanent residents of Australia since early childhood, while Australian citizens with similar criminal records are released into the community when their sentences end.

Despite Australia's opposition to the death penalty, your government allowed the AFP to mount a sting operation in Indonesia against drug smuggling, as a direct and foreseeable result of which nine young Australians (the "Bali Nine") now face possible death sentences in Indonesia.

In all these ways you lead a cruel and ruthless government, that regularly violates international laws and obligations to which Australia is party, trampling on defenceless people's lives, even on their right to life. I hold you personally to account for this.

Your present provocative counter-terrorism policies are creating great distress and insecurity in Australia's Islamic communities totaling some 300,000 people. These policies and associated rhetoric are doing great harm to Australia's community relations. I believe you are now trying to provoke acts of desperate violent protest from a few misguided individuals in Islamic communities, in order that your stirring up of public fear and prejudice against these communities might seem to have some retrospective validity. Australians of goodwill from all sides of politics understand the evil that you are doing here, and the pressures that it is putting on Australia's multicultural society.

I serve formal notice on you by this letter that I will continue strongly to criticize your government's policies and actions in areas such as those to which I refer in this letter. I will do so on my website, on other websites, and whenever and wherever I have opportunity to speak or write in public forums or print publications. I will do this because I love my country, and hate what your government's policies and actions are doing to undermine its values.

I will take no notice in my writing and speaking of whatever sedition law your government might pass in the next few weeks. I will expect your legal authorities under the Federal Attorney-General to charge me, if in your Attorney-General's view my speech or writings breach the new sedition law.

Any law that seeks to prevent or discourage people who have views like mine from saying or writing such things in Australia is a bad law, and needs to be defied. If your government passes such a law and then tries differentially to shelter people like me from it, because of our good public reputation and standing as former public servants, judges or journalists, your government will be improperly enforcing that law. Laws cannot be used selectively, to try to intimidate particular individuals or groups in Australian society.

In a healthy democracy, national security powers should not be improperly used to try to silence particular people. The solution is to review policies, like the US-led war in Iraq, that are causing legitimate offence to significant sections of the Australian community, and to establish proper judicial accountability for unexplained tragedies like the sinking of SIEV X in which Australian policies had contributory responsibility, and in which Australian national security agencies may have had some operational involvement. To invoke sedition laws against people who speak out truthfully on such matters, that may discomfort or anger your government, is a certain road to tyranny.

As to the other provisions in the proposed law concerning preventive detention and control orders, I support the informed expert views of the Australian legal profession peak bodies, as conveyed to the recent Senate inquiry, and I ask your government to take those views into full account.

I do not expect myself to be affected by those parts of the law, except possibly in respect of the proposed obligation of silence about being interviewed by security agencies. I serve notice on your government that I would ignore that injunction, thereby possibly rendering myself liable for a long term of imprisonment.

Mr Howard, the Australian people need to see what you are about here with these new counter-terrorism laws. They are nothing more than the deliberate fomenting of fear and prejudice within our multicultural community.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Kevin