Statement from Terry Hicks

It has now been five years since my son was arrested by the Northern Alliance and sold to the Americans. He hasn’t faced trial, he hasn’t been charged under recognized laws, and he has been kept in appalling conditions in Guantanamo Bay.

In all this time, I have only spoken to David on four occasions by phone linkup and have only seen him once, and he was not good at all. He is now kept in what politicians call a ’single occupancy cell’. The conditions in that cell are much worse than the highest level of maximum security prisons in the United States. It is all part of the torture tactics and stress tactics used in Guantanamo.

We keep hearing that the Australian government is providing consular visits and each time we are told David is “fit and well”. He is not. He is in a terrible state of mental health. David now refuses to speak to consular officials.

The Australian government has a duty of care towards its citizen, and they are ignoring their responsibilities.

Last month I met with the Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, and asked him: ‘Why don’t you call on the Bush government to release David? Why have you left one of your citizens by the wayside?’

He didn’t have a proper answer for me, but he said that if there were no progress with David’s trial by the end of November, there would be a call to release David. That date has passed, and the government has done nothing.

When John Howard recently met with Bush, he had the opportunity to demand David’s release, but he backed off again. It is now the Australian government that is the jailer as much as much as the Americans.

I hope that with its change of leadership, the Labor Opposition will now press the government on this issue. Up to now, Labor has not been forceful enough. Kevin Rudd is a new leader and he has a chance to make a fresh start in regard to my son.

I call on John Howard and Kevin Rudd to ask for the release of my son David from a place that is cruel, degrading and inhumane.

Guantanamo is a disgrace, and a dark mark on the Australian government’s record.