Scholars Threatened By
Australian Anti-Terror Laws
By Gideon Polya
24 November, 2005
A scientist, humanitarian writer and a correspondent on Countercurrents, I have been publicly identified in a submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry into the proposed Australian Anti-Terrorism Laws (see: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/terrorism/index.htm) as threatened by the draconian “sedition” provisions of these laws. The expert and humane submission alluded specifically to my recent broadcast on Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality on ABC Radio National (see: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm).
Right-wing political and media hysteria over a “terror threat” to Australia has led to installation of draconian Anti-Terrorism Laws with even stronger laws set to be passed before Christmas 2005. An Australian Senate Committee enquiring into the new Anti-Terrorism Laws has posted 276 submissions on the Web (see: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/
legcon_ctte/terrorism/index.htm ). These Anti-Terrorism laws - and particularly their broad-ranging "sedition" provisions - threaten Australian non-Europeans, Muslims, journalists, writers, academics and universities.
After carefully considering the “sedition” provisions, a brilliant linguistics researcher (in submission #84) considered that Professor Noam Chomsky, Professor Walden Bello, Dr Gideon Polya, brilliant mainstream but anti-war and humanitarian Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig and himself (by repeating their views and perhaps even listening to them) have broken the proposed “sedition” laws. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) recently broadcast a top legal opinion that outstanding expatriate Australian journalist John Pilger had also broken the “sedition” provisions by his forthright comments on Iraq (potentially 7 YEARS IN PRISON under the new Australian Anti-Terror laws).
The EXISTING Anti-Terrorism Laws provide draconian imprisonment penalties, namely 1 year (for not surrendering your passport immediately), 3 years (for intentionally associating 2 times with a person who promotes a Government-proscribed organization), 5 years (for reporting the preventative detention without charge of someone), 5 years (for not being able to prove that you do not possess an “answer” or a ”thing” demanded during interrogation), 10 years for being associated with a Government-proscribed organization) and 25 years (for leading such an organization).
The PROPOSED Anti-Terrorism Laws provide further draconian imprisonment penalties, namely 2 years (for revealing a Document Demand Order), 5 years (for contravening Control Orders that could involve home detention, wearing a tracking device, no work, restricted associations, no telephone, no internet and no possession of specific “things”), 5 years (for revealing Preventative Detention without charge of anyone), 7 years (for broad-ranging “sedition” offences, including not being able to prove that you did not intend to assist Australia’s enemies or disturb the peace - noting that it is not possible in science to prove a negative) and life imprisonment (for donations that are thence transmitted to a Government-proscribed organization).
Remarkably, for all the hysteria over the “terror threat”, neither politicians nor media have given any QUANTITATIVE estimates of the actual risk. One of the submissions (that of myself, #112) DOES provide such information: for an Australian, the “annual probability of dying” is about 1 in 1,000,000 (at the hands of a Muslim terrorist), 1 in 100,000 (at the hands of a family member or acquaintance), 1 in 10,000 (from a car accident) and 1 in 1,000 (from cigarette smoking).
My submission also quantifies the “body count” from non-state terrorism and state terrorism. Thus about 5,000 Western civilians have been murdered by Muslim terrorists and insurgents over the last 20 years. In contrast, the post-invasion avoidable mortality (excess mortality) in the Occupied Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan Territories now totals 0.3, 0.5 and 1.6 million, respectively - this being corroborated by independent estimates of post-invasion under-5 infant mortality in these Occupied Territories of 0.2, 0.3 and 1.4 million, respectively.
However the Australian Anti-Terrorism Laws, while not specifying Muslims, will in fact TARGET them because all 18 presently Government-proscribed organizations are Muslim. As with the “old” White Australia Policy and the “secret” New White Australia Policy, the Anti-Terrorism Laws will target Asians and Muslims by “secret executive interpretation”. Thus Australian Jews will be free to serve as soldiers in the illegally-occupied West Bank or Syrian territories and free to donate money towards illegal Israeli settlements - while a peaceful Muslim could face life imprisonment for a charitable donation at a mosque.
Australian media will simply NOT report the horrendous US Coalition “passive genocide” in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories now totalling 2.1 million post-invasion avoidable deaths in gross violation of the Geneva Conventions through the non-provision of life-sustaining requisites. NOR will Australian media report the 0.4 million post-2001 global drug deaths linked to the US Coalition restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry (currently about 90% of global market share) – this death toll including 2,000 Australians, 1,200 Scots, 3,000 Canadians, 3,200 Britons and 50,000 Americans.
I have told the Senate Committee of these things and also pointed out that the Anti-Terrorism Laws are actually “terrorist” themselves – they are achieving political ends through intimidation – and, indeed, by threatening pacifist and humanitarian anti-war activists (such as myself), will PROMOTE war and hence the continuing, DAILY death toll of 1,100 under-5 year old infants in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories.
Humane principles and free speech aside, I have an immutable personal defence for resolutely exposing crimes against humanity: the Nazis wiped our family from Europe and it is impossible for me - as a humanist and scientist with this family history - to be party to any crimes against humanity or to denial, whether by omission or commission, of egregious crimes committed against ANY people.
In addition to such scientific assessments of the relative effects of "jihadist" non-state terrorism and US state terrorism, my submission also mentioned dangers of this draconian legislation to Australia in relation to trade, tourism and overseas students.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reports that in 2003-2004 the total value to Australia of exports of goods and services was $143 billion, of which international visitors consumed $17 billion and education services exports accounted for $6 billion - see: http://www.dfat.gov.au/aib/trade_investment.html
Draconian, Muslim-targeting Anti-Terrorism Laws will discourage Asian visitors. The associated “sedition” laws will force teachers and academics (including humanities-, social science-, science- and law-based academics) to LIE BY OMISSION – why should about 300,000 overseas students pay an average of $20,000 per annum to be taught LIES by fearful Australian academics under threat of 7 year prison terms for broad-ranging “sedition” offences? Thus, under EXISTING laws, a peaceful, US anti-war teacher Scott Parkin was recently hauled off the street, imprisoned for about a week without charge, deported with 2 escorts and then charged $12,000 for the trouble.
The hysteria- and Islamophobia-driven, Police State Anti-Terrorism Laws will violate major international human and civil rights agreements (notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). These draconian Anti-Terrorism Laws will threaten free speech and the integrity of Australian teachers, researchers, schools and universities – and hence profoundly corrupt the next generation of Australians. Driven by media lying and hysteria, Australia is about to install proto-Nazi Police State laws.
After 4 years, Australian David Hicks is still in abusive US imprisonment, allegedly for association with an Afghan regime that, but for the US-led Coalition, could have prevented 2,000 post-2001 Australian opioid drug deaths (and 0.4 million such deaths globally). However, mainstream media will simply NOT report Coalition complicity in the restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry that now produces 4,200 tonnes or 87% of the global supply (see: http://www.countercurrents.org/us-polya281005.htm).
Australian Nguyen Tuong Van is facing judicial murder in Singapore for carrying 400 grams of deadly heroin – but Singapore is a major investor and banker for Myanmar, a country that currently produces about 320 tonnes of precursor opium per annum. Those US Coalition leaders and agents responsible for the post-2001 restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry - and hence for 0.4 million post-2001 global opioid drug deaths - should be identified, arraigned, tried and suitably punished. However Australian and Anglo-American mainstream media will not even mention this catastrophe.
Australia is tightly linked with egregiously violent UK-US democratic imperialism (democratic tyranny, democratic Nazism) that has caused carnage in Occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. However entrenched political and media lying have created a domestic climate of hysterical unreason that will shortly see draconian, human rights-violating sedition laws emplaced in one of the world’s oldest democracies.
Dr Gideon Polya