The other side of the story

18 05 2011

What happens in those off-shore compounds is rarely told from the perspective of those living in them.  More often than not, it’s the large commercial media organisations and various politicians attempting to appeal to base national sentiments.  The ABC have recently published a statement on what occurred recent on Christmas Island written by a refugee.  It is a must read for anyone look for the other side of the story.

Around four or five months ago there was a protest on Christmas Island, which around 250 detainees took part in, in the form of a hunger strike. They were protesting against the unfair system of claim processing by the immigration department.

The protest went on for a week, and after a week some people from the Ombudsman came to listen to detainees’ complaints. They came and sat down with clients’ representatives, and promised that they would pass on detainees’ concerns to the Department of Immigration. However, after a couple of months no one noticed even a slight change in Immigration’s way of processing the cases. Instead of implementing a change, they started to promise detainees that everything would be better in March, and that there would be a lot of noticeable changes, such as a speed up in the processing time for cases, and many other promises.

When March came, however, not only had nothing special happened, but also many people started to get rejected for a second time. For the first 10 days of March many rejections were handed out. This caused even more anger and frustration for detainees, because of the false promises from Immigration, and vows that were never fully met.

Finally, the tension and dissatisfaction boiled over, and around one month ago some detainees broke out of the centre. Around six or seven hundred asylum seekers, in a sign of protest, headed towards the Christmas Island airport in a desperate hope that someone might hear their voices. For two days, from March 11, after bringing down fences, hundreds of asylum seekers freely came and went from the detention centre. Immigration Department spokespeople repeatedly described the events as peaceful. However on Sunday afternoon, Serco decided there had to be a “show of force”. A “snatch and grab” operation was approved by the Department of Immigration, and eventually they captured twenty people, whom they named as ringleaders of a peaceful protest.

This not only did not help to calm the situation down, but created more anger and frustration among other detainees, as when they asked their friends from Serco staff, the staff flagrantly lied to them and told them that all 20 people had been transferred off the island.

However they had in reality gone nowhere but inside a high security compound called Red Compound. Not surprisingly, other detainees responded to the arbitrary arrests, and broke into the high security Red Compound in an attempt to free the 20 people who had been taken away in handcuffs. It was then that the police used tear gas and fired beanbag rounds. Such was the brutality of the police action that some three asylum seekers were trapped inside the Red Compound as they were shooting tear gas, and because their window was half broken the smoke got in and they were about to suffocate inside before one of the Serco staff managed to let them out just in time. Another asylum seeker’s leg was broken by the police beanbag rounds. When we talked to him and asked him what had happened, he said it was a real bullet that caused it, since he could see a hole the size of a 10-cent coin in his foot. Beanbag round bullets are not capable of causing such severe injuries.

The very next day, government decided to send an independent group to listen to detainees’ concerns. The group consisted of three people. During a meeting they had with around 200 detainees, they promised to pass on asylum seekers’ concerns to the minister of immigration via phone while they were on the island. They asked detainees to be calm while they were negotiating with the minister. All detainees agreed, but they stated that they would continue their peaceful protest whilst the negotiations were happening.

The next night, asylum seekers assembled in peaceful protest. They carried white sheets and strips of toilet paper as white flags. They even had flowers to give to the police, but the protest was again met with tear gas. Events escalated from there. This behaviour from the police enraged the crowd, and some lost their control and started to cause property damage by setting some tents and canteens on fire and smashing CCTV cameras.

Fires destroyed the tents and some canteens in the Aqua and Lilac compounds, while police flooded the detention centre with more tear gas and fired more beanbag rounds. All this vandalism was strongly condemned by most of the protesters, and some fights even broke out between peaceful protesters and those who were damaging the place. The protest was condemned and violent, however no one from Serco, the police or the detainees were injured. It is the asylum seekers who were victims of police violence. One asylum seeker had his chin torn up after being shot in the chin by a beanbag round. There were many more who got shot in their face and arms.

Around two or three days after the riot, police decided to retaliate by intimidating and humiliating Iranian detainees by locking up about 200 of them in the centre gym on their new year’s eve. They even threw firecrackers inside the gym, and after doing so police and Serco staff started laughing at detainees’ fright caused by the blast. After locking the detainees in the gym for the night, the next day some of the Serco officers, with a group of around 60 police guards, came to the gym and picked different people according to a book that Serco had provided. The book was designed by Serco which in it they had detainees’ photos who they believed were the rebels and rioters. The way they took people, handcuffed, with another police guard filming the whole scene, was so downgrading and humiliating that the pain felt was much more painful than even the pain caused by bean bag rounds. Any physical scar will eventually go away, but a scar on a person’s mind and spirit will stay for a long time, and the effect of it will likely cause all sorts of psychological disorders and traumas.

The same story of humiliating detainees was happening in other compounds also. Police guards, with the help of Serco, went to the rooms of people whose names were in their book. Police raided the rooms very early in the morning with guns in their hands, pointing at people and asking them to go with them. They even smashed the table that Iranian detainees had decorated for their new year’s day, and threw away the things on the table.

By selecting about 100 detainees and taking them to a compound called White 1, they (Serco and Police) wanted to demonstrate to other detainees that they were the troublemakers who caused all the damage. Around six to 700 detainees were involved in the protest, however because of lack of management by Serco and police, and also lacking a system to track people who had caused the damage (despite all the sophisticated security systems and CCTV cameras), they took the dignity of some innocents away without any solid evidence, and proof based solely on Serco’s fantasy and assumptions. They locked them up inside White 1, and did not give them their personal possessions. They didn’t provide people with any blankets or sleeping sheets. They used every way they could to provoke the people inside White 1 Compound to take some desperate action. In this case, they could easily stick the label of troublemakers and rebels much more easily to them, and prove to other detainees and to the government that they had caught the right people.

After keeping the people inside that compound for 15 days, without proving their crimes, and without any individual approaching them and telling them why they were being locked up, the tension rose to the point that one Kuwaiti detainee tried to hang himself inside the toilet but was very lucky to be noticed by his mates and they saved him.

Another some 50 decided to do a mass self harm.  Having heard the news, a representative from Serco and DIAC came to talk to detainees in White 1 Compound, bringing with them a list with the names of 10 people who were to be transferred to the mainland. Some of those were the representatives of the people in White 1. Again, the way they transferred them out of the island was another example of character assassination and humiliation for a crime and offence that was not proven. They were escorted by about 30 Serco officers ad some 20 AFP undercover police. When they were boarding the plane, some people were filming the whole scene in order to show to the Australian public that the main instigators of the riot were transferred away from the island. When they arrived in the Sydney detention centre, they were forced to sign a paper by Serco staff stating that “We are alleged to be the main instigators of the disturbances on the island”. When some people said that they needed to talk to their agents about it, Serco staff didn’t allow them, explaining that if they did not sign the paper they would be taken to a worse place.

Is this called justice here in Australia? Is this the way people get treated in a country that boasts about its humanitarian efforts? Accusing people of an offence that they haven’t committed, without any solid proof or evidence, is something that happens in dictatorship governments. Does this country follow the same dictatorship system as our own countries?


Solidarity with the Roma

5 09 2010

Massive protests have taken place across Europe against the French government’s deportation of Roma.

Al Jazeera:

Thousands of people have attended demonstrations in Paris and other French cities to protest against tough new security measures introduced by the government which they say are being used to target the country’s Roma community.

France began clearing large numbers of illegal Roma camps in July, after Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, announced a series of measures to fight crime.

Police said about 12,000 people had demonstrated in the French capital but organisers put the total nearer to 50,000.

Human rights, labour unions and leftist political parties accuse Sarkozy of stigmatising minorities and seeking political gain with the security crackdown.

They also say he is violating French traditions of welcoming the oppressed, in a country that is one of the world’s leading providers of political asylum.


Thousands of people have attended rallies in Paris and 130 other French towns to protest at the government’s policy of deporting Roma people.

Police say turnout across France was slightly more than 77,000 while organisers put the figure nearer 100,000.

With polls suggesting at least 65% of French people back the policy, the government played down the protests.

The EU parliament is to debate the Roma situation in Europe next week.

About 1,000 Roma (Gypsies) returned to Romania and Bulgaria from France last month, while official figures record that 11,000 Roma were expelled from France last year.

The League of Human Rights, which called for the demonstrations, said it wanted to counteract government “xenophobia” and what it described as the systematic abuse of Roma in France.

The rallies were backed by the opposition Socialist Party and the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), France’s second largest trade union confederation.

‘Pushed away’

Trade unionists, students, anarchists, illegal immigrants and others turned out in Paris to the sound of whistles and drums.

The actions of the French government are nothing short of racism, targeting a under-represented impoverished minority because it is easy.  And what happens when the Roma are gone?  Who will the French government turn their attention on next as part of their nationalist agenda?

Even though I cannot physically attend the rallies, this is a declaration of solidarity with the Roma people.

Reality Check on the Refugee Debates

25 10 2009

Xenophobia and Nationalist sabre rattling take up most of the debate about refugees.  All to often these people, who for whatever reason have decided to uproot and leave their homes for greener pastures, are portrayed as sub-human, without the appropriate paperwork, they have no soul.  Every Australian should be aware at the outrage and shock horror our most patriotic citizens have felt at the recent arrivals of boat people, the positions our politicians are taking, the cries against this horrible crime made by mostly Conservative, wealthy members of the community and the shear amount of rhetoric being used to score a few political points.

About a week ago I was with some friends and a few others.  People were talking and the subject of refugees came up.  I couldn’t believe my ears as I listened to these others talk of refugees as if they were sub-human.  The conversation had quickly become polarised between two positions; a Conservative and a Liberal.  The Conservative started smiling while announcing to the rest of the group that these refugees should all just be turned back in their boats.  I asked why, and he happily explained that the more we let in, the more our lives would become, ‘shit’.  I wanted to explore this thought further, but I could already guess the answer, ‘we only have so many resources and so much space, not to mention that these refugees will all, immediately, start taking Centrelink cheques’.  In other words, ‘my million dollar house in an exclusive suburb will be at risk if we allow too many to enter and they’ll live on welfare’ — which was surprising coming from an Italian whose own ethnicity faced the same discriminatory responses when they began arriving in this country.  I didn’t even know where to begin to tackle this absurdity that is just one step away from ‘they’re destroying our nation’s identity!’  It more or less relied on at least two basic assumptions; refugees are here to mooch and they have nothing to offer society. Never mind that the forces which make a person uproot and risk life and limb to relocate themselves and their families somewhere else means that they want to work because they want to live.  They are leaving their homes because it was so bad that they can no longer live as they wish.  Refugees, at least the ones I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, have never wanted to live off welfare, precisely because they want to live.  And again, all this makes me wonder about whether or not the same criticisms would be levelled against a large number of white refugees.  Would they be welcomed with open arms, or would they be round up and sent back home?

Then there was the Liberal, who otherwise lived in a fantasy world.  Granted, she took a position defending the refugees against the Conservative, but it was the manner in which she did so; she argued that the Australian economy was big enough to allow anyone in.  In short, she made such a weak argument against the Conservative that she was shot down in seconds and made it impossible for the Anarchist in the room to point out not only the intrinsic racism in the arguments of the Conservative but also the particularly arrogant assumption underlying all calls for increased, ‘hard-line’ border security that the world will get up and move to Australia if we just open the borders.  After all, people can’t resist coming to Australia even when there’s no reason to ‘begin again’ in their own country — and it should be well known that the energy and time needed to begin life over again, from nothing, is huge.  It’s a huge commitment but that only becomes absolutely necessary when your world collapses around you and prevents you from providing that better world for your partner and your children or your Self.

And so I woke up this morning, ate my cereal, started making myself coffee and turned on the TV. The glow bathed the living room and the familiar breakfast TV voices echoed in my ears. The presenters are interviewing a 60 Minutes reporter on a piece that will be aired tonight regarding refugees and they all seem to be talking, in depth about the business operations of those that bring the ‘boat people’ to our shores.

The Reporter was smiling and talking while the presenters asked him questions.  In short, he pointed out that the ‘boat people’ are ‘genuine’ refugees and he talked about those that bring the refugees to Australian shores.  He explained that these were mostly fishermen who found they could make a better profit by taking people to Australia instead of fishing.  It was pointed out that these people do not expect or even want to get to Australia; it is too dangerous.  They hope to be picked up by the Australian border guards so the people they are transporting will be taken to Christmas Island, they will be given a decent meal, kept warm and then given a plane ride home.  Are these people the evil monster’s that Kevin Rudd called them back a few months ago?  Are they profiting of human misery?  Sure, if you look at it from the perspective of, ‘Poor refugees, but they should wait in line while their world collapses around them instead of being goaded into doing something stupid be evil monsters’.  But this perspective doesn’t quite sit well with reality.  People want to get out and they want to get out now.  For whatever reason, they are willing to take the risk of coming by boat to Australia because they need to leave.  The ‘evil monster’ they turn to is a fisherman, just trying to make a living meanwhile the people, those poor refugees, are able to avoid much of the bureaucracy that may endanger their lives.  What these refugees are doing is something courageous and what the people who take them are doing is something heroic.

Then there is the fact that most people miss.  While crying ‘poor exploited boat person refugee who should have waited in line’ they ignore the fact that most of Australia’s refugees arrive by plane.  I would even go so far as to hazard the assertion that all those who treat ‘boat people’ as subhuman (evidenced in the very titled afforded them), should really think twice about their position on the basis that it may, one day, come back to haunt them.  After all, what happens if the lifestyle enjoyed in most of Australia suddenly goes to hell and many Australians look to escape?  Will they want to wait in line?  Will the rest of the world accept them or turn them back?

Borders and Border Protection are just codewords for xenophobia and do nothing but increase human suffering.  The more people call out for ‘regulation’ and ‘tougher laws’ to ‘combat’ the arrival of ‘boat people’, we will be helping to increase human suffering and misery.

EDIT:  Less than five minutes after posting this, I found the following:

Greens leader Bob Brown has told Channel Nine that if the Government wants to pursue a so-called “Indonesian solution” to deal with asylum seekers, it must seek assurances from the Indonesian government.

“I hope that Prime Minister Rudd will be calling on his Indonesian counterpart in Thailand to sign the international refugee conventions which guide basic ground rules for fast processing of asylum seekers,” he said.

Mr Brown says the Federal Government should be trying to improve detention conditions for asylum seekers in Indonesia.

“We’ve looked at the Australian-funded holding place in Indonesia, it’s got no power, it’s got none of the amenities we would expect for a decent jail, let alone a decent holding place,” he said.

“Some people are being held there for many years – five to 10 years – and that’s not acceptable.”

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has also defended the move, amid claims of extremely harsh conditions and beatings in Indonesian asylum seeker camps.

“We have carried out all of our obligations and continue to carry out all of our obligations,” Senator Conroy told Network Ten.

He says Australia has contributed almost $8 million this year towards improving conditions for asylum seekers being held in Indonesia.

So we’re taking people who have escaped one hell and thrown them into another.  Three cheers for Nationalism!

Political Rhetoric and Immigration

7 07 2009

Australia is confident Malaysia will treat asylum seekers appropriately, even though a report says corrupt officials have forced refugees into prostitution and slavery.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in Kuala Lumpur on Monday night. The two nations agreed to stronger cooperation to combat people smuggling.

But a US State Department report released last month put Malaysia on a blacklist of 16 nations judged to be the worst for people trafficking.

The report said corrupt Malaysian officials had sold Burmese refugees to people traffickers or forced them into prostitution or slave labour unless they paid for their freedom.

Typical.  What angers me the most is how eager Kevin Rudd and others like him have been to label illegal immigration as evil and people smugglers as the scum of the earth.  Of course, people trafficking is a different issue, as forcing people into prostitution and slavery is evil; an activity which it appears some Malaysian officials have been engaging in.  The difference?  Entering, or helping someone to enter a a country illegally is not immoral, but selling a person  into slavery, it so happens, is.

And it gets better:

Mr Smith said Malaysia wanted borders with integrity.

“Malaysia and both the prime minister and my counterpart made it very clear yesterday, privately and publicly, Malaysia doesn’t want to be regarded as a country which has lax immigration procedures or a country through which people can transit at their own whim.

Oh my God!  How evil!  Traversing a country at their whim? Those criminals.  We should lock them up and throw away the key!

The Counter Economy Lives!

14 01 2009

In past conversations I regularly confronted with know-it-all sceptics who hate their fellow human beings and doubt the existence of the counter economy.  Generally the argument goes, that if they cannot immediately access it, or see it, it’s not there.  It, “doesn’t exist.” Therefore it’s capacity for change is null.  The problem with this line of thought is that it does exist and you can find it anywhere — if you know the right people.

For the largest existing practical example of the counter economy, you have to look no further than the close-nit immigrant communities.  I know from personal experience; one of my parents was an immigrant and the other was born to an immigrant family. Though I will hardly name names or retell specifics, any ethnic minority who has arrived in a country in large enough numbers will inevitably start up their own counter economy.  It doesn’t matter whether they are Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Lebanese or something else.  These people are confronted each day with a noose made of red tape and the Australian Federal Government is regularly doing their best to hang these people with it.  They are made to jump through hoops, backwards, given papers that award them particular human rights (but restrict others) and are often confronted with racism, xenophobia and ignorant comments about their practices.  The underground economies that exist amongst these communities allow these people to feed themselves, their family’s, contribute to society and make their stay in this country a little more bearable when government employees are working against them.  For the good of the country, of course.

The black market then becomes an important feature of these people’s lives and extends from the farms to the cities.  It’s a necessity for survival, allowing these people to keep themselves out of the poverty which the government immigration regulations would keep them in until they’ve been signed, sealed, stamped and delivered.  This can take the form of working in a restaurant, owned by a family friend, family member or some important member of the community.  It can be working on a farm, working as a secretary, working as a labourer in construction or in various markets, even working as cashiers and salespeople in stores.  These are all honourable occupations and all are counter economic that don’t conform to the usual, "drug dealers and prostitutes" examples provided by Agorists that, to the uninitiated, are immoral, indefensible and are of bad taste.

One case that fascinated me was the story of a young man, who is currently living in Australia on a student visa, that from what I was told, forbids him the right to work.  Originally he had come out to Australia for an education, because back in his home country (unless you’re the offspring of some government official) your education ends abruptly and you spend your life, and I quote, ‘doing shit work.’  But then, little did he know how the bureaucracy in Australia worked, though he soon found out.  Australian universities do their best to take the international students for all they are worth (particularly in accommodation fees which is why many try to stay with a relative) but also make the process of studying a degree increasingly difficult.  That is how they earn their big money.  Each university demands an up-front cash payment for any international student’s course, while students that are Australian citizens can simply apply for financial support from the government which allows them to pay back the money after they have completed a degree and found themselves employment.  The problem arises that the foreign student cannot work legally in this country on a student visa, and unless their family is rich, they must come up with the money somehow.  The only option then is to work illegally, and risk their visa in the process.  However, this risk, while it still exists, is kept relatively small as the close-nit immigrant communities look after each other, don’t write anything down and pay whatever is owed in cash.  The income never gets reported and to all intents and purposes; the transaction remains entirely off the tax man’s radar.

Another story, this time from another young student who passed away in a violent incident last year, makes for a similar tale.  He originally arrived in Melbourne on a student visa, and had lied about his age in order to receive a passport.  However, coming from a poor family, he had to work to support himself at the same time and quickly found that it was impossible — even though he did not realise it was illegal for him to work.  On invite, he came to Adelaide and applied for a refugee visa, claiming that during his stay he had, “found Christianity,” and his family didn’t take too kindly to the idea.  Of course his family knew what he was doing and even encouraged him.  The whole thing was a drama commissioned for the purpose of allowing him to stay in the country.  During this whole period he had been working for a family member to support himself as he would otherwise starve, in defiance of a clause in his visa that prevented him from working legally.  Though it must be said that it was not until towards the end of his stay that he discovered this clause.  Later, his application was given a 90% chance of failure by his lawyer, provided by the refugee association, based on the extraordinary circumstances he was in (that shall go unmentioned here), and it was recommended by the lawyer that he return voluntarily to his home country before he suffers deportation and would be consequently be denied the chance to return, forever.  This left the individual two weeks to raise the money for a ticket home, while paying for his food and accommodation.  How was this to be achieved?  Answer: The counter economy.  After a visit to a friend’s father who owned a restaurant, a deal was made that would get him enough work to pay for the ticket home and he soon returned to his home, to his family.

Both these individuals were from different ethnic backgrounds and both are just two cases of many more that you will find from others within their respective communities and elsewhere.  I certainly know many more of these tales, experienced by the young and the old, but these two illustrate the counter economy perfectly.  Both were able to find work and support themselves in spite of the red tape that bound them and would cause them to starve — or become dependent on welfare.  The counter economy is alive and kicking, everyday.  If it exists to such an extent in a tiny city such as Adelaide, then it doesn’t take much to imagine the scale of other underground economies in larger cities worldwide.

.urbandissent: soon to be posting from a police state near you

7 01 2009

Over the course of a conversation, Australian’s have this frustrating habit of expressing how happy they to be living in Australia.  To some extent I can empathise.  Australia is free from civil war, attacks from arrogant and militarised neighbouring states while being relatively excellent place to live, lacking in both pollution and overpopulation.  The food is good, the people are fun and generally friendly, the cities are interesting and are full of things to discover.  The problem is that Australians have this strange way of missing, or ignoring, anything that threatens the upbeat image of this country in what seems to be an effort to maintain a certain naive image of reality.  Even when there is outrage, it’s only temporary and when it is decided from some high-up post that, once and for all, things should be a certain way, the dissent dies people go back to their BBQ’s and draping themselves in the Australian flag on Australia Day or during the cricket season.

Just for example, in between playing the part of the little dictator and working to achieve his vision for South Australia, Mike Rann  (whose wikipedia entry reads like a election-day pamphlet) has gradually turned the state into the nation’s premiere example of foot-in-the-door fascism.  I say this merely because over the past few years, the Rann government has set about abolishing double jeopardy, creating legal loop holes that subvert the right to remain silent, has allowed for organisations to be branded ‘criminal’ without the ability to challenge the label, concerned itself with all kinds of nanny statism, allowed illegal immigrants to be imprisoned within the state, regularly taken steps (both official and unofficial) to make achieving a full driver’s license extremely difficult and costly — and that’s just for starters.  It’s ironic that the state founded on the idea that it should epitomise a respect for civil rights, democracy and the best of the Britain could fall so far from the tree.  But there’s even an irony in that as Britain’s come a long way with it’s massive surveillance systems.  However, I digress.  The point is at state level there’s an ever-present danger that government in Australia is advancing leaps and bounds towards a police state and where you can find evidence of something in a small sample, you’ll be able to find it on a larger scale elsewhere.

You don’t need to look very far either, for the federal government has constructed a prison on a remote island off the coast to incarcerate illegal immigrants until they can be “processed” — which is a term that seems to mean treat these people like criminals until they’ve been ran through the bureaucracy like bits in a computer processor — and continues in it’s ridiculous plan to produce a nation-wide internet filter which bring it into line with the likes of China, Burma, Pakistan and all the other dictatorial nations.  When ideas like these start cropping up, you know there’s a problem. Australia has always been notoriously pro-censorship and not very user friendly when it comes to free speech, which itself is a horrible crime.  The Australian government has taken it upon itself to ban books, art and intimidate writers of various forms in the past, even recently.  While free speech isn’t protected in Australia, which allowed the Howard government to pass sedition laws in the anti-terrorism legislation, political freedom of speech is guaranteed in the constitution under the iffy term ‘implied human rights’ but was only established during a trial in the last few decades.  To all intents and purpose censorship is entirely legal and I’m sure that if political freedom of speech became a problem there would soon be created a loophole.  Though if we are to take the following writer’s words for truth, it could be that you won’t be hearing from me soon enough — at least if you’re in Australia — as a legal loophole wouldn’t be needed to have me and others censored, just the poor practical implementation of a rigid technology,

The Minister has stated that political speech will not be filtered under the proposal, but fails to define acceptable free speech and does nothing more to articulate his previous comments that “unwanted” material will be filtered under the scheme.


The Minister notes that in the last round of tests, overblocking, that is filters blocking legal content came in at 3-6%. He only notes that this is an advance on previous tests, but fails to address the very serious implications.

Under the scheme, three to six percent of perfectly legal content gets blocked. Anything other than a 0% rate is unacceptable.

Imagine the Australian Government waking up one morning and deciding that 6% of Australian businesses could no longer open their doors to their customers, and the outcry this would cause. This is EXACTLY what this proposal will do to online businesses, and companies with a primarily Australian focus online could find themselves out of business for no other reason that the Government’s filter has decided to block them, even though they were doing no wrong.

So it’s conceivable that my blog, as well as the blogs of other Australians, may become trapped on some government blacklist, whose selection process is being kept secret, and will then no longer be visible to other Australians. That is even if my connection functions fast enough to even log on, write and update this blog.  Nanny-statism is a wonderful phenomenon of the modern age.  As one commenter on the above cited article pointed out,

it is ridiculous. the gov want to control our lives. soon we wont be able to walk in our own back yards because it would be to dangerous and harmful to children…

Though he went back on this thought, he was indeed spot on.  When this system is implemented we will see ‘difficult’ political critics being added to the list, effectively silencing independently published criticism of the government.  It’s an inevitable result of legislation and government ‘programs’ that they’re initially applied for one purpose or emergency, but then the power granted to that various government department is never given up.  When the department finds it has little to do, the powers are then recycled in another way and so take on another function, such as an internet filter designed to block ‘child pornography’ being used to block the more general ‘unwanted’ material.  This ‘unwanted’ material will no doubt be described as extremist, terrorist, racist and those with an ‘anti-Australian’ agenda, or something similar.  Considering that the word ‘terrorist’ is loosely defined (I could easily and accurately label any military terrorist as I could the KKK or Osama, unlike politicians who label anyone they don’t like ‘terrorist’) no doubt many sights that bear the label ‘Anarchist’ will find themselves removed from the internet.  Even the word ‘extremist’ throws up some interesting complications when you look at the meaning of the word, ‘radical’…

Taken From Here

  • extremist: (used of opinions and actions) far beyond the norm; “extremist political views”; “radical opinions on education”; “an ultra conservative”
  • a person who has radical ideas or opinions
  • revolutionary: markedly new or introducing radical change; “a revolutionary discovery”; “radical political views”

  • arising from or going to the root or source; “a radical flaw in the plan”

So, although I don’t take to ‘radical’ to be a bad word based on definitions 2, 3 and most of all 4, that has attained a far more villainous meaning, care of politicians who use ‘radical’ interchangeably with the word ‘extremist’ means we have a very twisted definition.  Any political stance that exists outside of some brand of conservatism, socials democracy, liberalism or statist socialist is ‘radical’ , therefore ‘extremist’ and no different from the ‘Islamic extremists’ who are ‘terrorists’ and like to blow people (along with themselves) up.  Therefore they must be ‘censored’ so ‘democracy’ can continue.

It seems to me that Australia, or at least it’s administrative government, is plagued with the same mindset that must have existed since the administrations that presided over the first convict colony.  You know, those guys in wigs backed by British marines with muskets who laid down a flag and claimed everything as far as the eye could see as ‘theirs’ — the usual routine back in those days. We have never really broken out of that psyche, particularly as there always seems to be some new effort under way by governments of differing proportions to keep us in line.  Lest anyone mistake this to be an appeal for reform, this is not.  The Australian government, in every degree or incarnation has repeatedly shown its true colours in its complete disregard for liberty.  Be it Hicks, Haneef, the pacific solution, the children overboard scandal, Iraq, Afghanistan in little Johny’s administration, or now in Kevin’s the continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan (even though we were supposed to be out of Iraq) the prison-like detention centre and now this disastrous internet filter proposal that has been allowed to proceed — and these only within the first year of Rudd’s term!  No, you can’t reform that: the structure is rotten.

It’s amazing that the vast majority of Australian’s aren’t paying any attention to such issues.  Mostly there is indifference while people go back to their beer and allow themselves to be shocked into submission by yet more stories of shootings, stabbings and violent murders.  Then they conclusively announce, “government is for our own good,” and we are one step closer to prison sentences for the crime of spitting.

As promised, more news on the Greeks

22 12 2008

Once again, Deadeye, was kind enough to again provide me with his account of the events happening currently in Greece.  It seems though second rounds of demonstrations and street fighting between the police and demonstrators have erupted, sporadically in diferent areas, but the Greeks themselves are changing their aims.

We’ve almost had another execution in Athens.

A group of pupils were discussing about the upcoming demonstration, in the 18th of December, outside their school in the district of Peristeri. Someone fired two shots, wounding a 17 year old. Fortunately, he was shot at his arm and now he’s recuperating. Police came to investigate the crime scene 14 hours later, while they insisted that the shooter fired with an airgun. The projectile that was extracted from the kid’s arm proved it was actually a 38 caliber pistol, arousing suspicions about the initial false claims made by the police.

We’ve had several squats, occupations and take overs.
The major labour union, widely known for being a sell-out, was taken over by anarchists and invites workers to participate in free councils through which workers will coordinate their forces with the general outbreak.

More radio and TV stations are being occupied for a few minutes to broadcast news, straight from the street. Reporters are intensively trying to bring back the “Christmas spirit” and discourage further political action.

Three main Athenian universities have been occupied that act as the movement’s headquarters, where massive discussions take place and issue brochures and newspapers. The Polytechnic school, the Law school and the Economic Studies school. The government never had any control over the students in universities, for several reasons. First and foremost, universities are considered asylums. No policemen, soldiers or any kind of weaponry is allowed inside. However, the last 3 years they try to pass an educational law through which, students’ rights will be significantly decreased and occupations like these will be severely weakened.

In other cities, more occupations take place that act similarly, as local headquarters in which future political action is talked through and defined. Universities, city halls and various public buildings.

Almost all universities and most schools have been shutted[sic] down by their students. Demonstrations are being constantly programmed.

The above was part 1.  Deadeye provides updates as to the latest happenings in Athens and the take-overs of the union, TV stations and city halls.  He also responded to queries regarding the nature of the Greek university’s and how the Greek government has virtually ceded all control to the student protestors, while discussing the future,

Its not just Greek anarchists that are involved in this. There’s a strong left movement in Greece that is participating in a very militant fashion these days.

However, the smashing and burning is more or less over. Banks, surveilance cameras, cop stations and mega-stores have received their message for the time being. The street fighting continues sporadically but only for defensive purposes. I’d say we’re mostly focusing on the info-war that has been waged lately by the media and we’re trying to provide our version of the facts.

Our demands, for now, are limited in law-enforcement, educational and labour issues. Abolition of riot police, disarmament of police officers, abolition of the latest educational and labour laws that weaken worker and student syndicalism and self organization.

We intend to literally paralyze the state, in a financial and functional level, with constant strikes and demonstrations.

In regards to further questioning about the attacks on reporters by protesters, Deadeye had said,

Concerning the article, I’m not aware of some certain incident in which a journalist has been victimized, so I cant name or count them, but its common knowledge that reporters are traditionally greeted with aggressiveness by leftists and anarchists, as they systematically undermine our struggle and openly lie, so its quite possible that the story is true.

Let me remind you how they took sides from day one, adopting the cop’s story until eye witnesses stepped up. A TV channel went far enough to edit the video taken from the balcony, depicting the murder. They removed the sound and added their own with sounds of smashing and shouting, in order to back the cop up and his claims of 30 anarchists attacking him.

And if I may take the very dangerous liberty of adding further information here, any reader who has been following these events for its duration would have heard reports from earlier on that Journalists had also been met with hostility by police.  While the article speaks solely about the Anarchists attacking journalists, it leaves out events such as the following,

…riot cops attacked at Korai Str in Athens, arresting at least four students. One of the arrestees was a 13 year old girl; nearby journalists who reacted to her brutal arrest were also beaten up heavily.

It would be more accurate, in fact, to state simply that journalists are met with hostility in general based on their profession and how previous journalists have covered the same events.  The curious thing is that reports of police brutality against journalists occurred early on in the demonstrations when the media had sided with the Anarchists due to mass public outrage at what was essentially an execution.  Later, however, the reporters have returned to siding with police and no doubt their reports have been less than accurate regarding the “self-described” Anarchists, explaining the hostility against journalists from both sides of the conflict at one time or another.  In fact, Deadeye finishes this post with a departing piece of wisdom;

Where a cop’s nightstick can’t reach, a reporter’s lie can.

And how true it is.  The events unfolding are going to come down to spin.  Who can spin it better and faster.  Obviously, the government and the police have the advantage of a massive media organisation that is sympathetic to it.  These media outlets are then connect to others the world over who have a tendency to merely copy the article/report, repackage it and distribute.  This means that any error or lie won’t just be repeated among a small area where people may see it for what it is, but it will be repeated the world over and millions of people will take it for gospel.  I have met many even now who take the Greek Anarchists to be thugs and even murderers.  But let us move on.

In the following article on the Australian website, we get valuable pieces of information as well as examples of propaganda,

Police also clashed with protesters after a separate demonstration against racism that was attended by about 200 people in Syntagma Square.

“Migrants are killed, schoolchildren are killed,” said banners carried by the protesters who marched to the Greek parliament. Protesters threw garbage at police who ringed a Christmas tree on the main square.

This piece is interesting in that it implies that police are targetting all demonstrations and it’s curious that this particular demonstration was anti-racism.  Though the article doesn’t say, and I wouldn’t expect it to, I wonder if anyone belonging to the Golden Dawn organisation was present.

Then there are these two events that carries a certain Robin Hood feel,

Masked men broke into the building housing the offices of Tiresias SA, a company that keeps records of delinquent debtors and cardholders, and firebombed the company’s offices. The fire was extinguished but the company’s offices were destroyed, witnesses said.

In Nea Philadelfia, a western suburb of Athens, demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at the police academy and torched six police vehicles parked nearby, without causing any casualties, police said.

But, as always, whenever something that could be construed as “positive” about the demonstrators is mentioned, it has to be matched with something negative, chiefly, the following,

In Thessaloniki, anarchists occupied a cinema in the city’s main square and threw cakes andsweets[sic] at Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and one of hisdeputies.[sic]

The mayor was attending an open-air Christmas event near the theatre, distributing the sweets to children with sickle-cell anaemia when the rioters disrupted the event. Protesters emerged from the theatre and attacked a nativity scene, throwing away the Christ figure.

Now this is an interesting one.  If it did indeed happen as depicted in the article, which is rare, than the Anarchists are just downright evil, or so we’re inclined to believe due to the article’s stance.  How could they prevent candy from being given by the generous mayor to sick little children?  This is just too “good” to be entirely accurate and strikes as a possibley brilliant example of propaganda.  Now, working on the assumption that the article is accurate, it is possible to understand why the Chistmas event was attacked.  It’s another repeat of the over-commercialised Christmas line and has become a symbol of consumerism.  The particular note of a Jesus figure being thrown away is merely a result of a small atheist rebellion in a country renowned for its strict orthodox faith.  Whether it’s right or wrong, I’ll leave it up to the reader to debate, as I personally don’t particularly agree with this choice in target.  That being said, however, in the scale of things the Anarchists haven’t taken a life and as far as mistakes go, this is a relatively small one that handed an easy victory to the Greek government in the PR war that is being raged.