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Oz Socialist Alliance: Justice In `War On Terror'

Guilty until proven innocent - justice in the `war on terror'

Socialist Alliance statement: November 9, 2005

In the week in which PM John Howard's support as preferred prime minister dropped to a three-year low, the arrest of 17 people in Sydney and Melbourne on November 7-8, allegedly for planning a terrorist attack, was exceedingly fortunate timing for the federal government.

The overnight escalation of the "anti-terror" fear-mongering campaign that the government and media have perpetrated since September 11, 2001, will be a convenient diversion from the government's new industrial relations laws, opposed by the overwhelming majority of people in Australia. Any doubt that the raids were politically stage-managed should be dispelled by the fact that the police invited sections of the mass media to join them.

Forty-eight hours after the arrests, the details of the charges against the 17 remain undisclosed. However, this has not stopped the media and politicians, Coalition and Labor alike, proceeding to charge, try and convict them - whether or not they are guilty of any illegal activities. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty has been thrown out the window in the so-called war on terror. The chances of these 17 men now getting a fair trial is now almost nil.

The Socialist Alliance condemns all terrorist acts. The targeting of innocent civilians is horrendous and unjustifiable. But there is a fundamental difference between discussing political and religious beliefs, suicide bombings or even how to make a bomb, and actually carrying out a terrorist act.

That difference - between thought and action - has been obliterated in the new terror laws that the Howard government, with full Labor Party backing, is rushing through parliament. These laws, which criminalise dissenting ideas, annul the right to silence and remove legal "due process" from public view, are a violation of basic human rights. If we are to continue to call Australia a democracy, they must be resisted.

The Socialist Alliance joins with all those who refuse to be intimidated and silenced by the government's "anti-terror" propaganda and laws.

We will continue to speak out for the immediate withdrawal of all Australian military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Australian government's participation in the inhumane and illegal war on the Iraqi people, and its wholehearted support for imperialism's war of terror, is creating more, not less terrorism.

We will continue to defend the right of all people to full freedom of speech and association, and oppose the banning of any organisation by the Australian government.

We will continue to campaign for the repeal of all federal anti-terror laws, and demand that the federal ALP opposition reverse its shameful support for Howard's police-state laws, and that all state Labor governments repeal the anti-terror laws they have passed in recent years.

And we will continue to condemn ASIO-police raids on the homes of innocent Muslims and stand in solidarity with the victims of these attacks. The huge sums of public money being spent on these terror raids should instead be spent on a public education campaign against racism towards the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities.

[The Socialist Alliance is helping to establish an emergency response network of all those who want to help defend individuals or organisations under attack from the new police-state laws. To sign on to the network, email national_office@socialist-alliance.org, or visit www.socialist-alliance.org]


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