Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees is Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney opens up the mike.
Senator Kerry Nettle, The Greens
From left clockwise: Senators Kaye Lundy (ALP), Andrew Bartlett (Democrats), Natsha Stott-Despoja (Democrats) and Lyn Allison (leader Democrats). Eureka flags and banner by Peacebus.com captain Graeme Dunstan.
Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner and now candidate for the NSW seat of Auburn in the upcoming NSW State elections, Mamdouh Habib, tells of torture and brainwashing. Heavy accent notwithstanding Mamdouh was the most moving, most informative, most effective speaker of the day.
The suit at the front is Democrat Senator Andrew Murray.
The bearded bloke behind him and to his right in the purple shirt is
Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett (Democrats), Kerrie Tucker, ex ACT MLA and now ACT Greens lead senate candidate.
Next to her with the Greens sign is Roland Manderson, a staffer of
current greens ACT MLA Deb Foskey
The crowd gathered around and in the shade of the Rainbow Chai Tent which had come 800 km from the Rainbow Region of NSW to be there and was erected in defiance of the ban put upon the erection of structures on the Parliament House lawns by the Speakers of the House. Fluttering flags by Benny Zable and also The Greens sign on the Rainbow Chai tent, painted up by him the night before.
A welcome to country was given by Auntie Windjilabinna from Carpentaria country, over 80 years old and blind. She expressed gratitude for the good work Senator Kerry Nettle was doing on behalf of her people. After she was embraced by Newtown rapper Jaqueline X and Auntie Marnie (?) from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. That's Benny Zable dressed in slogans.
After bearing witness to the commitment of our elected represenatives to the immediate release and repatriation of David Hicks, the crowd marched Prime Minister John Howard in chains to the US Embassy to be offered up in a prisoner exchange deal, Howard for Hicks.
Outside the US Embassy the crowd was at its most animated chanting together and laughing at the theatre of the prisoner exchange that was blocked by a line of federal police some barely able to hide their grins. Peacebus.com captain Graeme Dunstan is on the mike.
Protesters demand Hicks return
Australian Associated Press
February 6, 2007 - 1:49PM
Former Australian Guantanamo Bay inmate Mamdouh Habib has joined hundreds of
protesters on the lawns of Canberra's Parliament House, calling for the
return of Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks.
The 31-year-old Adelaide-born father of two who has been detained by the US
at Guantanamo Bay since shortly after he was captured with Taliban forces in
Afghanistan in December, 2001.
US prosecutors have recommended he be charged with providing material
support for terrorism and attempted murder, but the charges won't be
formally laid until they have been approved by US military judge Susan
Habib, who is running as an independent for a seat in the NSW election, told
the crowd that Hicks was being tortured and brainwashed in the US camp.
"Guantanamo Bay is an experiment ... and what they experiment in is
brainwashing," Mr Habib claimed.
"Not just mentally, they want to know what to do to harm you to make you
crazy ... that's what they are brainwashing.
"That's the treatment of David Hicks, and they give him the wrong medicine
to make him sick.
"David Hicks was in camp five - now they have built camp six, more rooms to
brainwash, he can't talk, he is brainwashed completely.
"We sit down and watch this man, what he's been through we are ashamed, we
have to stand up for this guy and if we don't do it now he is lost, he is
The fresh charges being laid against Hicks are a strong indication that the
military tribunals, ruled unlawful by the US Supreme Court in June last
year, will begin at Guantanamo Bay this year.
Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja told protesters the military
tribunals were unlawful and she would be raising the issue in parliament.
"I've got an emergency debate on the immediate repatriation of David Hicks
as well as an assessment of his physical and mental health," Senator Stott
"You have heard the flaws in the MCA (military commission act), like the
inability to challenge evidence ... the fact that evidence can be obtained
through coercion ... we ask the government and they say it's acceptable.
"We are going to expose the flaws of the military commission act and process
to which this man has been sacrificed, and guess what, every member of the
Senate has to vote."
Senator Stott Despoja also called for a cross party delegation to visit
"Let's see ministers look at David Hicks in the eye and say that these
facilities are humane and appropriate and abide by international laws," she
"David Hicks has been in the hell hole for five years and it's time to bring
Senator Stott Despoja was joined by Democrats leader Lyn Allison, Democrats
deputy leader Andrew Bartlett, Greens senator Kerry Nettle and Labor senator
Senator Nettle, who has been a strong campaigner for the release of David
Hicks thanked the members for their contribution to the protest.
"It's great to be here with so many parliamentarians from a range of
different parties to join you and to join Australians in a louder and
stronger voice saying bring David home," Senator Nettle told the crowd.
© 2007 AAP
PM tells the party: I could free Hicks - but won't
Phillip Coorey and Cynthia Banham
February 7, 2007
JOHN HOWARD has told his party room he could secure the release of David Hicks any time but says that would be wrong because the terrorism suspect should face a trial first.
The admission yesterday prompted MPs to challenge him why he did not.
Bruce Baird, Petro Georgiou and Warren Entsch contended Mr Hicks had been in detention too long, would not receive a fair trial and should be brought home and placed under a control order.
"What do you expect us to do?" Mr Howard was quoted as saying.
Mr Entsch responded "bring him home like the Brits did", a reference to the British Government repatriating its Guantanamo Bay inmates because of concerns about the military commissions.
Mr Howard said that meant Mr Hicks would go free because he could not be charged under Australian law.
But he also indicated yesterday he would not let him languish indefinitely, saying he would set the US further timelines for the case to be dealt with.
He earlier gave the US until the middle of this month for Mr Hicks to be charged. At the weekend, two new charges were sworn against Mr Hicks but have not yet been approved or laid.
Lawyers from the US State Department said yesterday it was unlikely he would be formally charged by mid-February, and it was too early to say whether he would be tried within a year.
The Prime Minister said public sentiment was shifting and the matter had not been well handled by the Americans.
But this did not deter backbenchers from speaking out, saying it was not the person but the process that concerned them.
Mr Entsch said he had no sympathy for Mr Hicks as an individual but was worried about the lack of due process he had been afforded. "After five years it's ridiculous. The process is clearly flawed," he said.
Others MPs pointed out that Mr Hicks's case was becoming a "big concern" in the community.
The West Australian senator Judith Adams said a Labor victory in a state byelection in Perth over the weekend was in part fuelled by anger over Mr Hicks and Iraq.
Mr Howard dismissed this.
Labor's legal affairs spokesman, Kelvin Thomson, said Mr Howard's claim exposed the whole process as a joke.
"If the Prime Minister is claiming he can determine, and therefore by default, is determining David Hicks's fate, this is outrageous," Mr Thomson said.
Mr Hicks has been in Guantanamo Bay for more than five years. He was charged in 2004 but the charges lapsed last year when the original military commissions were ruled illegal by the US Supreme Court.
John Bellinger, the legal adviser to the US Secretary of State, admitted Guantanamo Bay had become "a lightning rod for criticism that threatens our record on human rights" and it was important to try to counter this.
Sandra Hodgkinson, the deputy in the office of war crimes, said after the charges had been laid, Mr Hicks had 30 days to be arraigned and enter a plea and then a trial must start within 120 days.
The laying of charges "could be within a few weeks to more than a month's time", she said. Asked if a trial would happen within a year, she said, "It's too early to speculate as to what might be possible."
Mr Bellinger defended the trial process as fair and he denied Mr Hicks was being charged under a retrospective law.
He said there were many instances of international war crimes tribunals using offences that were "obviously put down on paper much later than the conduct actually that was in question".
Mr Bellinger said he did not believe it was a violation of Mr Hicks's human rights to be held in Guantanamo Bay for five years without charge, and the Australian was "more than just an adventurer".
Chorus of discontent ... protesters gather outside Parliament House yesterday to demand the release of David Hicks from the Guantanamo Bay military prison.