Sunday, December 10, 2006

war criminals

I braved the smoke laden air and blistering heat yesterday to spend an hour in the relentless sun in support of David Hicks.

What heartened me most were the hundreds of, if not a thousand, others who did the same. In particular a strong grey power contingent who were even more vulnerable to heat stroke.

For Australians who never read behind the news, or those from distant shores who have not heard of him, David Hicks is an Australian citizen who has been detained without trial by the US Government for the past 5 years. Initially captured by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, he was then sold or passed onto the Americans, interrogated, hooded, shackled and transported ultimately to camp X-ray. He is still in Guantanamo Bay, where he continues to be subjected to treatment that defies the Geneva Convention. He was kept in sensory deprivation for 8 months. He has been tortured, including an 8 hour session where he was repeatedly beaten. He has not been treated with the respect and assistance that an Australian has the right to expect from their government, if detained in a foreign country. He has lost the most basic of rights – habeas corpus.

This is not about guilt or innocence, but about human rights. Whether he was a fighter with the Taliban or just in the wrong place at the wrong time is yet to be proven after 5 years of detention without trial. Even a mass murderer (a crime David has not been accused of) has the right to a comfortable cell, exercise and contact with family. He has not seen his 2 small children in over 5 years. His letters are censored with all references to love and support for him removed. He does not even have a date for a trial, nor has it been established what he is believed to be guilty of, or whether he can be tried as a civilian.

Bring him home. Give him a fair trial. Afford him his rights.

How would you feel if it was your father/brother/best friend/partner/you?

Just remember, the Australian Government has the ability to pull the punches that other nations have to get him repatriated to his own country. They have chosen not to.

Who will be next?


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