Victorian Socialist Alliance candidates condemn 'anti-terror’ laws

Socialist Alliance candidates contesting the November 25 Victorian elections joined protests outside Barwon prison on August 20, organised by Civil Rights Defence. The protests highlighted the anti-democratic nature of federal and state “anti-terror laws” and called for the release of 13 Melbourne men currently facing trial.

Vannessa Hearman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Brunswick, condemned the “trial by media” of those arrested under these laws, adding that “many of the allegations come from entrapment by ASIO agents”.

“Another factor is racist stereotyping. The only terrorist attack I know of in Melbourne was the July 16, 2001, attempt to blow up an abortion clinic in which a security guard was killed. The terrorist involved was an Anglo-Australian Christian. And yet all of those being victimised by these laws are from Muslim backgrounds. These laws are part of a wider campaign to vilify particular communities and stir up racism to justify overseas wars.”

Margarita Windisch, Socialist Alliance candidate for Footscray, is an activist in the Stop the War Coalition and was one of the organisers of recent protests against Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Palestine. “The laws make it illegal to incite violence against Australian forces overseas”, she said. “With Australia involved in genocidal wars of conquest in Iraq and Afghanistan, does this make it illegal to say that people in these countries have a right to resist?

“The government lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. But Hezbollah has been fighting to defend Lebanon and its people from Israel’s rampage that left more than 1000 civilians dead. These laws effectively make it illegal to support the right of the Lebanese to defend their country and their people. We oppose a ban on political and religious organisations in Australia and are calling for all troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Sue Bull and Rowan Stewart, trade unionists and Socialist Alliance candidates for the Western upper house region, drew the link between the “anti-terror” laws and the government’s industrial relations policies. “The IR laws are also an attack on civil liberties”, Bull said. “For example, the Building Industry Taskforce can force any worker to testify, taking away the right to silence, a basic democratic right. While the government uses racism and religious vilification to divide us, if we allow one section of the community to be targeted, we are all in danger.”